CAMBRIDGE City Council has welcomed additional government funding to support its response to the coronavirus epidemic.
The government has granted the council £59,000 from its £30million surge fund for local authorities. This is intended to help councils increase compliance work and enforcement checks on businesses to ensure they are complying with the coronavirus restrictions.
The council’s environmental health officers are in the front line of tackling coronavirus, tracing the close contacts of people who have received a positive test for the virus, as well as carrying out inspections, explaining the rules and encouraging businesses and individuals to follow the guidelines.
The council, with its city centre management partners, including the police, Cambridge Business Improvement District and Cambridgeshire County Council, is considering how best to use the funds, in accordance with the government’s published guidance.
To help manage secondary queueing and associated group gathering and social distancing compliance issues on Friday and Saturday evenings outside city centre bars and pubs, the council will be employing a team of city centre marshalls.
The team of licensed marshalls will be provided by a private security firm on a four week trial basis from the coming weekend and will work closely with the police to engage, explain and encourage businesses and the public to follow the coronavirus safety regulations and #staysafecambridge.
The council and its partners have been working since lockdown to plan and manage the reopening and recovery of the city’s retail and hospitality sectors and the welcome and safe return of visitors.
Through the group’s work, city centre footfall has recovered from a year on year position of approximately 60% down at the beginning of June to a position of approximately 35% down now.
Separately, the government is expanding its Job Support Scheme to firms required to close due to coronavirus restrictions.
Under the expansion, firms whose premises are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work.
The government will support eligible businesses by paying two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.
Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, said: “Our entire council officer team is absolutely focused on continuing to deliver services for residents in Cambridge and pulling together to tackle the virus.
“Our environmental health officers are in the front line of that work, tracing the contacts of people who have had a positive test to reduce the spread of the virus.
“This additional funding is to be welcomed and it will support our team in educating and enforcing the rules, but it will make only a small contribution to the growing costs of responding to coronavirus.
“We need the government to look at the full costs being incurred by councils, which are leading the effort to reduce the spread of the virus, and to provide adequate financial support to reflect those costs.”
Cllr Moore added: “I appeal to all of our residents, visitors, workers and students to continue following the national rules to help reduce the spread of the virus.
“As we have seen, the number of infections is rising across the country so if we want to minimise it in Cambridge we do need to redouble our efforts to follow the hands-face-space rules.”