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Supporting Wirral businesses to be certified 'Covid-secure'

Wirral Council is reaching out to more than 5,000 local businesses to support them in the wake of further changes to national Covid-19 guidance.

A team of more than 20 council officers will be taking to the streets from Monday, when the new guidance comes into effect, to visit a range of premises and offer them support to make their business as ‘Covid-secure’ as it can be.

This large-scale engagement exercise will follow the launch of a council-led, self-assessment accreditation scheme for businesses which will allow them to promote themselves as an official ‘Covid-secure’ business to give their customers confidence that they have all the required procedures in place for their safety and the safety of staff.

Amongst other announcements made yesterday, the government said that from 18 September hospitality businesses will be required by law to ask for and keep contact details of visitors and customers in case they are required for the Test and Trace process.

It also said they expected local authorities to take a stronger role in ensuring that as many businesses as possible adhere to all Covid-19 legislation that applies to them and pursue enforcement action if necessary.

Cllr Janette Williamson, Wirral Council cabinet member for Finance and Resources, said: “These last few months have been incredibly tough for many local businesses and even since they’ve been allowed to get staff and customers back through their doors, they have had a dizzying array of advice and guidance they have had to follow, and in many cases they have to make significant investment to make adaptations to their premises.

“Against that backdrop, the last thing we want to be doing is adding to their difficulties by issuing fines or having to take court action.

“By putting together this scheme, we are making a commitment to get everyone working together and looking out for each other - to keep business booming, while also protecting the community as much as possible from the potential spread of the Covid-19 virus.

“It is a balancing act, but we know in Wirral we have a long and proud history of pulling together when it is needed. By supporting businesses to make themselves ‘Covid-secure’ and giving them accreditation to acknowledge their efforts, we hope that customers will be reassured and encouraged to play their part by adhering to the new ‘rule of 6’ and other measures such as social distancing, hand hygiene and wearing face coverings.”

One of the first businesses to apply for the new Covid-secure accreditation is Tappers Gin distillery, which is based on the old Champions site in Upton.

Tappers, which produces handcrafted spirits in small batches, has proved a real success story since it was launched in 2016 and received a number of nominations in the council’s recent High Street Heroes appeal for its work in adapting some of its production capacity to manufacture their Community Spirit hand sanitiser, which they donated to care homes and hospitals.

Explaining why it is so important for his business to be recognised as ‘Covid-secure’, Tappers founder Steve Tapril, said: “The safety of our customers, visitors and team is absolutely our number one priority. As a working distillery, we’re committed to the highest standards of health and safety and food hygiene.

“We therefore welcome this initiative by Wirral Council to help businesses such as ours achieve COVID-secure accreditation. We hope the scheme provides much needed reassurance to the public that, with the support of Wirral Council, we and other businesses certified as COVID-secure have implemented measures to keep everyone as safe as possible during the pandemic.”

Wirral businesses can now download a new online toolkit for guidance, support and advice on Covid-19 and sign up to become ‘Covid-secure’ accredited.

If anyone has concerns about the operations or procedures of any local business, they are able to let the council know online.