A plan to get people in one Merseyside borough spending again by assuring them that businesses are safe to visit has been launched.
Wirral Council is contacting over 5,000 local businesses to help them become as ‘Covid-secure’ as possible.
Shops, pubs and cafes will then be able to promote themselves as officially ‘ Covid -secure’, giving local people the confidence that they are not risking the health of their friends and family by going inside.
To support the scheme, a team of more than 20 council officers will be taking to the streets from Monday, when they will be visiting a range of businesses and offering them support to make their premises as safe as possible.
The move comes after Boris Johnson announced new rules to combat a rise in coronavirus cases nationally, including limiting social gatherings to no more than six people, the so-called ‘rule of six’.
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Infections are rising sharply in Wirral, with over 200 cases recorded in the last seven days of reliable figures, from August 31 to September 6, at a rate of 63 per 100,000 residents.
That’s more than double last week’s figures for Wirral, when just 98 infections were recorded at a rate of 30 per 100,000 residents.
The figures for the last couple of days are slightly lower, but are not yet fully reliable as they can be revised up once all tests taken have been processed.
One of the first businesses to apply for official ‘Covid-secure’ recognition is Tappers Gin distillery, based at the old Champions site in Upton.
Tappers, which produces handcrafted spirits in small batches, has been very successful since it opened in 2016.
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It received a number of nominations in the council’s recent High Street Heroes appeal for adapting its resources to make ‘Community Spirit hand sanitiser’, which the business donated to care homes and hospitals.
On the importance of the ‘Covid-secure’ scheme, Tappers founder Steve Tapril said: “The safety of our customers, visitors and team is absolutely our number one priority. As a working distillery, we’re committed to the highest standards of health and safety and food hygiene.”
Cllr Janette Williamson, Wirral Council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “These last few months have been incredibly tough for many local businesses and even since they’ve been allowed to get staff and customers back through their doors, they have had a dizzying array of advice and guidance they have had to follow.
"In many cases they have to make significant investment to make adaptations to their premises.
“Against that backdrop, the last thing we want to be doing is adding to their difficulties by issuing fines or having to take court action.
“By putting together this scheme, we are making a commitment to get everyone working together and looking out for each other – to keep business booming, while also protecting the community as much as possible from the potential spread of the Covid-19 virus.”
Wirral businesses can get advice and sign up for ‘Covid-secure’ recognition here.