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Covid-19 champions praised for their work in Stamford before returning to their South Kesteven District Council jobs

A team of covid-secure champions trained to help South Kesteven businesses through a maze of coronavirus requirements is being hailed a huge success.

In total, 478 covid secure business checks were made across the district – with 67 instances of businesses given advice to make improvements.

Nine South Kesteven District Council officers were redeployed in November to help keep staff and shoppers safe as lockdown was gradually eased.

Stamford Barber Shop in Radcliffe Road follows the Covid regulations. (48504167)
Stamford Barber Shop in Radcliffe Road follows the Covid regulations. (48504167)

The champions were all recruited from furloughed arts centre roles and visited a range of sectors, initially focussing on high street premises such as retail, hairdressers/barbers and food stores.

They handed out guidance and posters and helped direct business owners to advice on grant funding and support from the council’s economic growth company, InvestSK.

SKDC cabinet member for commercial and operations, Councillor Dr Peter Moseley (Con), said: “The vast majority of businesses made the champions’ task much easier by researching and meeting covid-secure requirements and operating as they should.

Covid champions Karen Palmer, Alexandra Pick and Carolyn Bland on duty in Stamford. (48504237)
Covid champions Karen Palmer, Alexandra Pick and Carolyn Bland on duty in Stamford. (48504237)

“However, our redeployed arts centre staff faced a high level of anxiety and confusion within the business sectors while out on the street advising and assisting.

“They went about their new roles with smiles on their faces in tricky circumstances and made sure that businesses clearly understood why they were undertaking these important duties.

“Only a handful of cases were escalated to SKDC’s environmental health team for further input, so this initiative was an all-round success in working together to follow the guidance and contribute to minimising the local rate of infection.”

The champion roles were wound up at the start of June, following the Government’s Step 3 when the hospitality trade was allowed to re-open indoors. By then, many businesses had started operating again and compliance levels were high.

Co-ordinator Tracy Purdy said: “It was a steep learning curve on all aspects of regular changes in law and guidance, plus how to offer support and share good practice. We held weekly catch-ups with the Environmental Health team, who are responsible for business restriction/closure, enforcement and advice and outbreak control management.”

Sean Watterson, normally a theatre technician, said: “This was complete change of work role for me but the feeling out on the high streets was that we’re all in it together to make things work safely. It’s definitely made me confident in meeting new people and giving advice but I’m very much looking forward to the theatres re-opening now that this important job is done.”

The redeployed officers offered covid-related help and advice in Grantham, Stamford, Bourne, Market Deeping and other parts of the district. Their role was created to engage, encourage and explain the latest guidance to businesses and promote covid-secure measures.

Anyone concerned that a business is not operating safely should email healthy@southkesteven.gov.uk or call 01476 406080.

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