CAMBRIDGE City Council continues to work towards the safe reopening of the market and to focus on work to reverse the rapid rise in coronavirus cases in the local community.
The council took the decision to temporarily close the market following advice from the Director of Public Health, after an excessive number of people were seen in the city centre, in spite of the stay at home regulations that were in force at the time.
People were congregating in nearby areas such as King’s Parade, where fencing has now been installed to prevent public gatherings. The market has also been fenced off while it is closed to prevent the square being used as a spot for night-time gatherings and drinking.
National lockdown measures announced on Monday mean that people are required to stay at home and to leave home for a very limited number of reasons with only one trip out for exercise per day.
Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, said: “The new national lockdown must mean that fewer people will venture into the city centre, as nobody should be using the historic square and surrounding streets to socialise, whatever the time of day.
“With fewer people using the space, we hope to be able to reopen for essential trade soon. Under the national Covid-19 regulations essential trade refers to the sale of food and drink, including hot food takeaways, the sale of alcohol, plus services such as bike and car repairs.
“It is likely that in order to reopen safely we will need to restrict the number of traders and so we will need to find a way to allocate pitches in the fairest way and to try to ensure that all traders who want to are able to trade at some point.
“There is no benefit to Cambridge City Council in closing the market which we run on council land - the decision was based on reducing the spread of Covid-19 in the city.”
Cllr Moore said: “We have a responsibility to run the market safely for the traders, shoppers and the city as a whole. Our markets and city centre team have been working hard to keep the market open and safe throughout this pandemic and they are now working hard so that we can reopen it as soon as it is safe to do so.
“I know that this has been very difficult for traders, coming after a challenging year and I am very sorry for them. We will update traders about the process for reopening and we will review and update our package of support for traders in the light of the closure and of the new lockdown.
“I do believe that it was right to prioritise public health and to do what we can to prevent the transmission of the virus.
“We know how important it is to people who live close to the city centre to be able to shop locally and that many people welcomed shopping outside during the first lockdown in spring.
“Anyone visiting the market and those who want to collect shopping, parcels or takeaways from surrounding stores, need to remember the advice to stay at home unless it is essential to go out.
“If your journey into the city centre is essential, please come alone if you can, not with the whole household and remember hands, face, space to keep yourself and others safe.”
Cllr Moore added: “We would like to remind shoppers that infection rates have risen more than fivefold in a month and are rising now so there is a very real risk of catching the virus.
“It is affecting children and adults of all ages, and is spreading rapidly, so please, take care – come out only when essential, and shop locally where you can.
“We will be making further announcements on how we will distribute the latest business support the government has promised for retail and other businesses affected by the lockdown, and the continuing support for market traders since last March.”
Traders who have not yet applied for Additional Business Support Grants can do so at:
Information about the number of cases in Cambridge is published here: https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/cases?areaType=ltla&areaName=Cambridge
The council is also urging people to ask for help if they need it during the latest national lockdown as a range of support is on offer:
- Anyone who needs help or support that could be safely provided by volunteers can contact their local ward group: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/coronavirus-ask-for-help or tel: 01223 457000.
- Details of support for people experiencing financial difficulty, including Test and Trace Support Payments, are here: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/coronavirus-financial-support-for-residents
- People who are unable to pay for food or other necessities, can get help from Cambridge Foodbank or Cambridge Sustainable Food
- People who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless will also be offered support https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/get-help-to-avoid-becoming-homeless and anyone who is concerned about an individual can contact the Cambridge Street Outreach Team.
- For those people whose mental health is being more severely impacted, there is the Lifeline support number 0808 808 2121 which operates daily from 11am to 11pm. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can phone the NHS 111 number and ask for Option 2. More information about mental health support is available on the Keep Your Head website https://www.keep-your-head.com/
- Further advice on looking after yourself is available here: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/coronavirus-look-after-yourself
Full details of what can and can’t be done during the national lockdown are available on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus