AS lockdown restrictions are being eased, non-essential retailers have started to reopen across the borough following specific guidelines within their stores.
To ensure this is done safely and adheres to guidelines, Tameside Council has launched the ‘Safely Reopening Tameside’ campaign to collate the advice and support available, as well as frequently asked questions and a series of downloadable signage for businesses. The campaign is part of the co-ordinated #SafeGM initiative across Greater Manchester. Delivered by the Growth Company in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the advice and support is designed to ensure that employers and employees are aware of the information they need to work and travel safely during the continuing pandemic.
To help with the return to work, a series of changes are being introduced by TfGM across the transport network, including*:
- Increased Metrolink frequency – with services running every 10 minutes – from June 22
- Hand sanitiser dispensers placed at bus stations and interchanges by mid-June and assessing further roll out at key Metrolink stops
- Discounted travel for people working more flexibly and travelling less often
- Delivery of up to 200km of new, emergency active travel protected routes, traffic calming measures and increasing access to bikes – subject to confirmation of a £21.5m DfT funding bid.
- An expansion of GM’s bike loan scheme and relaunching of cycle training to provide people with the confidence and skills to commute by bike.
Where homeworking is not possible, businesses and workers are being encouraged to:
- Only use public transport if necessary – walk, cycle or drive instead
- Wear mandatory face coverings on public transport from June 15
To help people get used to the change and embed this new expected behaviour TfGM will be distributing a limited number of masks at staffed bus stations, interchanges and some Metrolink stops from Monday, June 15.
Employers are being urged to follow a set of SafeGM guidelines, including:
- Supporting home working wherever possible
- Where possible, only bringing a proportion of their staff back at one time and staggering the working day by allowing some staff to start earlier and others to finish later to ease the peak on public transport
- Providing good hygiene facilities
- Enabling social distancing and where operationally impractical employers should implement measures to lower risk of transmission eg providing PPE (personal protection equipment)
- Boosting employee confidence by conducting and publishing a risk assessment
- Workplaces, especially retail should boost confidence by displaying a notice visibly in their shop windows or outside their store to show their employees, customers and other visitors that they are implementing Government guidance
- Acknowledging the needs of individual employees, who may need to consider childcare or other responsibilities
- Promoting good mental and physical health
Introduction of staggered shift patterns and more flexible working arrangements are expected to improve work-life balance and boost productivity as business leaders begin the process of reopening the Tameside economy.Cllr Oliver Ryan, Tameside Council executive member for finance and economic growth, said: “Our main concern is the health of our location population and so any reopening of our local economy must be done as safely as possible. Through the Safely Reopening Tameside campaign we’ll be sharing vital information and guidelines with residents and businesses in the borough.
“I encourage anyone that can work from home to please continue to do so and help us in our response to the pandemic.
“While you can now visit more of the shops which have been the lifeblood of our community for generations, and we want people to support local businesses, I would ask that this is done sensibly and responsibly, observing social distancing guidelines and leaving as soon as you have bought the items you need.”
For information supporting employers and employees reopening the economy in Tameside safely, including a business advice FAQ and downloadable materials, please visit www.tameside.gov.uk/safetameside
* Exceptions include young children, people with breathing difficulties and people whose disabilities makes it difficult for them to wear a face covering.