Cautious return to normal for Swindon’s pubs and clubs on ‘Freedom Day’

VENUES around the town are cautiously returning to normal with a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach to the pandemic.

The government’s so-called ‘Freedom Day’ saw most of the remaining restrictions lifted yesterday, including social distancing and mask-wearing, while the number of new coronavirus cases surges.

Shortly after venues got the green light to open without these restrictions, Great Western Hospital recorded the first death of a patient with coronavirus symptoms since May – its 324th since the pandemic began.

So although these safety measures are no longer legally enforced, pubs and clubs in Swindon are encouraging revellers to reduce the risk of spreading the deadly disease by wearing a mask, using table service apps, registering attendance on the Test-and-Trace app, and sanitising their hands often.

The Power Lounge is opening its indoor venue for the first time after having to push back the big launch from June 21.

The new club in the former home of Boston Brothers and Edge has welcomed guests for outdoor meals and social events in its garden while finishing off the new bar, booths, lights and surround sound system inside the Bridge Street building.

Owner Bal-Kumari Roka said: “We are very excited about our big launch, it’s been a long wait but as we’re all fully aware, health and safety is the top priority, especially during these times.

“Our stance is to have all safety precautions in place as we have been doing since we opened our garden and comply with the government guidelines.

“This means hand sanitising, wearing masks, doing temperature checks, ensuring every individual does the track and trace check-in, keeping the social distancing rules in place and so forth.

“Anyone who shows symptoms will not be allowed in the venue, which we have made aware of on our social media platforms. We will be following all the rules because the health and safety of our staff and customers is our top priority.

“We put on a great opening party for our customers while ensuring the highest levels of safety precautions are taken.”

The Victoria pub, the Rolleston Arms on Commercial Road and the Level 3 nightclub next door will be following similar rules.

The Vic’s landlord Darren Simons reminded customers on social media: “Despite the lifting of restrictions, we are very aware that infection rates are on the rise so we would appreciate your co-operation to keep yourself, other customers and staff safe.

“We are excited to be able to welcome you all back. Please leave your politics at the door and be respectful to our staff and to other customers at all times.”

Healthcare-related charities like Prospect Hospice as well as providers like Great Western Hospital have asked visitors to follow some of the old guidelines.

A GWH spokesman said: “To protect our staff, patients and visitors, we will be maintaining coronavirus safety measures across our hospital and GP practices.

“If you’re visiting the hospital, Moredon, Abbey Meads, Penhill or Crossroads, you must wear a face mask at all times, unless medically exempt, and ensure you are socially distanced.

“Please make use of the hand gel available at the entrance and exit of every ward or department, and wash your hands regularly.

A Prospect Hospice spokesman said: “Our retail team will be recommended to continue to wear face masks and we politely ask our customers to wear a face covering in our shops.

“Social distancing rules no longer apply so there will no longer be a limit on the number of customers in our shops.

“Our sanitiser stations in our shops will stay in place for your comfort and use, as well as our rigorous cleaning regimes remaining in place at all times.”

The latest government figures show that there have been X new Covid-19 cases confirmed in Swindon within 24 hours from 9am on Sunday to 9am on Monday.

There were 989 positive test results recorded around the borough in the last seven days, which is 440 more than the week before – a rise of 80 per cent.

The number of people with possible coronavirus symptoms who are being treated at Great Western Hospital rose by five to a total of22 in the last week, which is one more than the seven days before that.

Swindon’s infection rate as of July 14 is 348.3 cases per 100,000 population.

There have been 19 new Covid-related deaths recorded around the country and 39,950 new cases were confirmed.

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