Rotherham Council has extended free weekend parking across the town centre to support residents and businesses as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
As businesses including salons, pubs, cafes and non-essential retailers re-open for the first time in months, the Council has permanently removed Saturday charges at all twelve of its off-street car parks in central Rotherham. All council parking is already free on Sundays (except Wellgate multi-storey, which opens Monday to Saturday only).
Simon Moss, Assistant Director for Planning, Regeneration and Transport at Rotherham Council, said: “COVID-19 restrictions have led to financial difficulties for many of our residents and businesses, and this is a practical way we can help them as restrictions ease and people find ways to go about daily life safely.
“With capacity limited on public transport, we suggest people coming into town walk or cycle if possible to reduce pollution and stay healthy, as well as save money. But we recognise some people will need to drive to use town centre facilities, and we don’t want parking costs to be an obstacle.”
This week’s easing of restrictions will see Rotherham’s outdoor and indoor markets re-opening fully and returning shoppers will see a range of COVID-19 safety measures in place including one-way systems, signs and pavement markings to aid social distancing, and hand sanitising stations.
Those coming back to the town centre will also see a revamped Bridgegate, with new lighting, paving and colourful planters, as well as work underway on College Street to provide new landscaping, seating and on-street pay and display parking.
While many will be keen to make the most of the easing restrictions, the Council is reminding residents to continue to stick to social distancing guidelines as the COVID-19 infection rate in Rotherham is still at more than twice the national average.
People are encouraged to follow the hands, face, space and fresh air guidance, as well as making use of the regular lateral flow testing available through workplaces, schools and community test sites. Residents are also reminded that if they test positive, they must stay at home and self-isolate.
Rotherham Council’s Director of Public Health, Ben Anderson, said: “There is a lot of excitement now the lockdown restrictions are easing and it’s great to see the people coming back to the town centre. However there is a very real risk of a further wave of infection in Rotherham so it’s vital we all continue to social distance and follow all the COVID safety guidelines to avoid any need for restrictions to be re-introduced.
“Please, if you are going shopping, visiting the hairdressers or meeting family and friends outside at a café or pub, keep your distance, wash your hands regularly and wear a face covering when required. We must all do everything we can to keep Rotherham open.”
Details of which car parks are included in the free Saturday parking offer, and maximum stays, can be found at www.rotherham.gov.uk/parking