Keeping Penzance a Safe and Welcoming Place to Visit, Shop and Work

15th September 2020 in Council News, Covid-19

Members of the Penzance Covid Recovery Group are working hard to make sure that the town is prepared for the introduction of the new Covid 19 restrictions.

The new rules mean that, from today, no more than six people can gather in either indoors or outdoors in private homes and parks. Anyone who breaks the rules could face a £100 fine.  Social premises and venues, including pubs and restaurants, are also now required by law to request test and trace information from customers and to keep the details for 21 days.

The group, which includes representatives from Penzance Business Improvement District (BID)Safer Penzance, Police,  Penzance Council, Cornwall Council, and Penzance and District Tourism Association (PDTA), have been liaising with the Government and other agencies during the past few days to obtain detailed information about the new rules.

“While we have been sent some details about the changes, we are waiting for further information from the Government on how the new restrictions will operate in practice “ said Cornwall Councillor Jim McKenna.  “This includes details of the new Covid marshals scheme”.

“We want to provide local businesses and members of the public with the information as quickly as possible so we can help people to remain safe as well as encouraging everyone to play their part in reducing the level of infections.. In the meantime we have been reviewing the current arrangements to make sure they meet the new guidance. “

The Covid safety measures previously developed by the partners have worked extremely well during the past few weeks, helping shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants, tourism attractions and accommodation providers to offer a warm welcome and excellent service for visitors and local residents whilst keeping people safe.

“We would like to thank everyone in the town for the way in which they have worked with us to support the Covid recovery measures” said Councillor Nicole Broadhurst, the Mayor of Penzance.  “These have included the introduction of the pavement licencing scheme, which has enabled food and drink businesses to provide more outdoor space for their customers; carrying out additional cleaning of streets, shops open spaces and public toilets, and installing new signs and other measures to support social distancing and help people queue and navigate our narrow streets safely.

“We would also like to thank the street marshals who have been out and about in the town centre providing advice and support. “

Following the relaxation of the previous lockdown restrictions in July, Penzance accommodation providers and tourist attractions saw a significant increase in the number of visitors coming to the town for the peak summer season.

“There has been some fantastic feedback from visitors who really appreciated the way tourism businesses who have gone the extra mile to keep people safe “ said Jon Matthews, from the Penzance and District Tourism Association (PDTA) and a member of the Penzance Covid Recovery Group.  “Positive comments on Trip Advisor have included “very friendly and welcoming owners who had made a lot of effort to ensure everything was clean and safe in line with coronavirus guidelines .

“A big thank you to everyone in the tourism sector who put their guests and community safety at the heart of their operating model.  We now need to build on this strong foundation as we plan for the next few months, and into next year” .

Work is also continuing on developing the Healthy Streets PZ scheme. By creating a pedestrian and cycle friendly zone in Market Jew Street and significantly reducing the amount of through traffic, the scheme has provided more space in the town centre for social distancing, enabling people to visit the town and shop safely.  However, although the majority of people are abiding by the restrictions, a small number are still driving into Market Jew Street between 11 and 4pm.  As this is now an offence, people who breach the restrictions run the risk of being fined or prosecuted.

It was agreed to allow the scheme to settle down before enforcing the new measure and the Healthy Streets team have been working with the police and other partners to finalise introducing enforcement by the end of this month.

Traffic monitoring will be carried out by Cornwall Council’s highways officers during the next two weeks to provide an accurate picture of the number of vehicles driving in Market Jew Street.

“Initial feedback suggests that the number of vehicles driving through the street since the introduction of the restrictions has reduced from around 300 an hour to less than100 an hour “ said Rachel Yates, from Sustainable Penzance.  “This reduction has already made a significant difference to the feel of the town, with more space for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as reducing carbon emissions and noise pollution and improving air quality.

“We are hoping to see further reductions in traffic levels over the coming weeks as more people get used to the new arrangements, and the enforcement measures are introduced.”

Although the relocation of the bus stop has created more space for passengers to wait, the Covid Recovery Group are keen to provide somewhere for people to wait for their bus to arrive.

“We are working with Cornwall Council to look at options for providing a bus shelter at the new bus stop before the weather deteriorates” explained Jessica Morris, from Penzance BID .  “We are also working with Cornwall Council to get St John’s Hall ready to re-open to the public.  This includes carrying out additional work to ensure that the accessible toilets in the building meet the Covid safety guidance. 

“The recent rise in infection rates and the introduction of the new restrictions has reminded all of us that the pandemic has not gone away.  We all need to remain vigilant and play our part in making sure that Penzance continues to be a safe and welcoming place to visit, shop and work as we move into the winter. “

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