Lancashire County Council is making some changes to services in response to the new national lockdown which came into force today (Thursday 5 November).Advertisement
The aim of the changes is to bring coronavirus cases down by minimising contact between people in Preston and South Ribble.
Most services will be unaffected as buildings and operations have already adapted so that people can continue to access them, while ensuring the public and staff are protected from the virus.
Read more: Preston Market stalls that are staying open in lockdown 2
However there will be changes to some services as part of a countywide effort to make lockdown 2 as effective as possible, and minimise the time that restrictions are needed.
From today (Thursday) there will be some changes to registration services, libraries, museums, and public transport, in response to new government legislation on the nationwide lockdown.
Weddings and civil partnerships can no longer go ahead during the lockdown, and services that had been planned during the lockdown period will need to be postponed.
Read more: Parents across Preston reminded to follow social distancing guidelines when collecting children
Officers will be doing their best to help them make new arrangements over the coming days and weeks.
Anyone who has emailed with a query is asked to be patient as staff will respond as soon as they can.
The new national restrictions mean libraries can’t be open for browsing, but will be allowed to continue offering services from the door, and for essential internet access.
This means people can still order books online and collect them at the entrance. This includes the ‘six of the best’ service, which allows people to collect a bag of books selected by library staff at the door.
Libraries will be open for doorstep collections and returns on their usual days, but hours reduced to 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 4pm. People can book 45-minute slots to use the public computers, with priority for those needing to search for and apply for jobs, make Universal Credit claims, or complete other important online applications.
Sessions can be pre-booked by calling 0300 123 6703, or by visiting the library. Padiham Library is set to remain closed until the New Year to allow building work to take place.
Read more: Preston and South Ribble record further Covid infection rate falls as lockdown 2 just hours away
Museums are also now closed. This will affect Clitheroe Castle Museum, and the Judges Lodgings Museum in Lancaster, which usually opens at weekends between August and early November.
Clitheroe Castle Museum will be closed from Thursday for the duration of the lockdown, and the final scheduled opening of the Judges Lodgings Museum this season, which was due to take place this weekend, will now be cancelled.
Park and Ride bus services in Preston and Lancaster will also be suspended after the last bus on Friday 6 November, as their main purpose is to provide transport to town centre shops, most of which will be closed during the lockdown.
The drive-through coronavirus testing facility situated on a cordoned off section of the Walton Le Dale Park and Ride site will remain in operation, however the car parks at both the Walton Le Dale and Portway sites in Preston will otherwise be closed.
The Lancaster Park and Ride car park will remain open for parking and access to Electric Vehicle Charging Points.
The latest coronavirus stats in your area can be seen below
In general bus services will continue to operate, however people are asked only to use public transport for essential journeys and to contact their local operator for details.
One of the most widely used services affected by the first lockdown was the county council’s recycling centres, however there will be no changes to the current service as visits are still allowed under the new lockdown regulations.
Measures to ensure sites can operate safely whilst also maintaining social distancing were introduced when they reopened in the summer to minimise the risk to visitors and staff, however people are asked to only make essential visits, and check online about temporary changes which have been introduced due to the pandemic.
County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “The coronavirus situation in Lancashire is already very serious, and it’s clear that action is now urgently needed on a national scale to ensure that our health service is not overwhelmed.
“While we all want to see the back of the pandemic, and for life to return to normal, it is apparent that this isn’t going to happen any time soon, and our priority must be to do all we can to protect each other, and particularly the vulnerable, from the virus.
“One key difference between where we are now, compared with the situation we faced in March, is that we know more about the virus, and have been able to put changes in place to ensure our services can continue to operate, with restrictions in place to protect those using them, as well as our staff.
Read more: Open letter from police chiefs outlines what Preston and South Ribble residents can expect during lockdown 2 on Covid rules
“This puts us in a good position to be able to continue delivering these essential services during the coming lockdown, and while there is a need for some changes from Thursday, these are comparatively limited and I’m glad that there will be no impact on most of our services for now.
“It may still be necessary to make more changes as further government guidance emerges, or as part of the local response, and I would ask people to check our website to keep up to date.
“I’m grateful for people’s understanding and cooperation at this difficult time, and would ask everyone to play their part in protecting themselves, their family and their community.”
You can check on changes to Lancashire County Council services here.
Read more: Latest news and updates from Blog Preston
Do the service changes affect you? Let us know in the comments below