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Fri 9 April 2021:
Your regular update from Reading Borough Council on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how you can help
The latest COVID-19 updates and news from Reading Borough Council

In your news update email this week…

  1. Lockdown easing – what are the new rules?
  2. Rapid testing for all - plus new town centre test site
  3. Council services - what's reopening next?
  4. How to observe Ramadan safely
  5. Local elections on 6 May - how to vote
  6. Rediscover Reading from 12 April
1.LOCKDOWN EASING - WHAT ARE THE NEW RULES?



From Monday 12 April the latest stage of the roadmap out of lockdown comes into effect. More businesses will open, but you should visit indoor settings alone, or with household groups. Outside, six people or two households can meet. This means that from Monday:
  • All shops are able to open
  • Restaurants and pubs can serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors
  • Gyms and spas can reopen, as can zoos, theme parks, libraries and community centres
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons and other close-contact services can open
  • Members of the same household can take a holiday in England in self-contained accommodation
  • Children will be able to attend any indoor children’s activity
  • Care home visitors will increase to two per resident
  • Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place, though please note this is limited to 12 at Reading Town Hall due to room capacity.
  • Funerals can take place with up to 30 people (15 at wakes)
You can find out more about the latest changes on the Government website.
2.RAPID TESTING FOR ALL - PLUS NEW TOWN CENTRE TEST SITE



From Friday 9 April, everyone in England will be able to access free, regular, rapid coronavirus testing. 1 in 3 people with coronavirus don't have any symptoms and can spread the virus without knowing. Testing twice a week with a rapid test helps to find these cases and prevent the spread of infection. We're asking everyone to get into the habit of taking regular tests - here's how:
  • At your workplace - thousands of employers are offering testing in the workplace onsite or with home test kits. Ask your employer for details
  • Community testing - local councils have community testing sites where you can go to take a supervised test. You can find your nearest site on the NHS test finder or book a test one of Reading's 3 test centres  
    •  Rivermead Leisure Centre
    • South Reading Leisure Centre
    • NEW!   Reading Town Hall (opens Monday 12 April)
  • Our community testing centres do not currently have home test kits for collection, but we hope to offer this service soon. 
  • NHS Test & Trace sites - you can pick up home test kits from sites across the country. Find your nearest site on the NHS test finder site.
  • Pharmacy collect - when launched, you will be able to go to a participating pharmacy and pick up a free box of tests to use at home. NHS England’s site finder will let you search for your nearest participating pharmacy and more will be joining the scheme in the coming weeks.
  • Education - secondary and college students are being given tests to use at home twice a week, throughout term time and the holidays.
  • Order tests to your home (LFD direct) - for people who can’t access tests through other routes, you can order packs of tests from the Government website, or call 119 to have tests delivered to your home.
You can find out more including how to register your test results on our website.
3.COUNCIL SERVICES - WHAT'S REOPENING NEXT?



Leisure
We're delighted we've been awarded £159,000 to help local leisure centres recover from the impact of the pandemic. This is part of £100 million Government funding allocated to 266 local authorities across England. The news comes as we prepare to safely reopen sport and leisure facilities in line with the government guidance. Current timelines include:
  • Outdoor activities opened on 29 March including clubs at Palmer Park, football sports pitches, tennis courts and outdoor gyms.
  • From 12 April –  limited indoor activities. This will include gyms, casual swimming sessions, children’s swimming lessons, and possibly some indoor sports hall activity at South Reading, Meadway and Palmer Park centres. 
  • No earlier than 17 May – other indoor activities; specifically the group exercise training programme.
More details are available at http://www.readingleisure.co.uk/
 
Arts and Culture
We have also secured £487,000 to support the recovery of Reading’s arts and culture venues, including the Hexagon, South Street and Reading Museum. The grant will significantly help the service’s preparations for reopening as part of Step Two of the Government’s spring roadmap (which is still subject to approval).
 
The anticipated timetable includes:
  • Reading Museum is set to reopen from Tuesday 18 May
  • The Hexagon will re-open with the show ‘On Track’ on Friday 28 May
  • South Street will return for a series of open-air theatre as part of SITELINES Theatre in Unusual Spaces in June  
All venues and shows will be reopened with COVID safety measures built into the experience, to ensure everyone’s safety is a top priority.
 
Libraries
Battle Library reopened this week on Tuesday 6 April. It will now be open initially for 9 hours per week (Tuesday 1-5, Friday 10-12, Saturday 10-1).
 
Working in line with current national safety guidance, from 6 April, Battle Library will offer:
  • Returns – to entrance when the library is open, book drop when closed.
  • Order and collect (book online at www.reading.gov.uk/libraryrestart or via 0118 937 5950) – you can order specific items or a general collection.
  • Limited computer bookings (via 0118 937 5950).
We hope to confirm the reopening details for our other branch libraries at Whitley, Southcote and Palmer Park soon.
 
Reading Library’s popular e-service is still available. The virtual Reading Library boasts a huge range of instant access to free online resources, including eBooks, eMagazines and eAudio. New library members can register instantly online and there are lots of free online learning resources.
4.HOW TO OBSERVE RAMADAN SAFELY



Ramadan Mubarak to everyone observing Ramadan in Reading. May this holy time bring you peace and good health.

Ramadan, which will start from 12/13 April (depending on moon sightings), is the holiest month of the year for Muslims and includes a total fast between sunrise and sunset each day.

Similarly to 2020, this year’s Ramadan will continue to be a very different experience for Muslims all over the world due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. For many it will largely mean observing Ramadan from home. The Muslim Council of Britain has provided COVID-19 safety guidance

COVID-19 vaccines during Ramadan
The safest and most effective way to protect yourself, your family and those most at risk from Covid-19 is by taking the vaccine when offered it by the NHS. The British Islamic Medical Association has reviewed the analysis of Islamic scholars and confirmed that having the vaccine does not invalidate the fast. In addition, the vaccine does not contain pork or other animal, foetal or alcohol products - this reflects the advice of the majority of Islamic scholars that it is permissible.​
5.LOCAL ELECTIONS ON 6 MAY: HOW TO REGISTER, & APPLYING FOR A POSTAL VOTE



On Thursday 6 May, residents in Reading will be voting in Local Borough and Police and Crime Commissioner Elections. There are a number of ways to have your say - you can vote in a polling station, by post, or by appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf, known as a proxy vote. To vote in any election in the UK, you must be registered to vote. The deadline to register is midnight on 19 April 2021.
 
How do I register to vote?
It takes 5 minutes to register and you can do this online on the Government website.
If you're unable to register online, you can apply by post. You can download the relevant forms on the Electoral Commission website.
 
If you were registered to vote in the last election and your details have not changed, you don’t need to take any action. If in doubt, you can check with us on 0118 937 3717 or elections@reading.gov.uk.
 
How can I apply to vote by post or proxy?
To apply to vote by post you need to download, print and fill in a postal vote application form. Once you have completed the form and signed it, you need to send it to the Electoral services team, Reading Borough Council, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading, RG1 2LU, or you can email scanned forms to Elections@reading.gov.uk  If you can’t print the form, contact the Electoral Services Team so that a form can be posted to you.
 
If you aren't able to vote in person, you can ask someone you trust to vote for you. This is called a proxy vote and the person is often referred to as your proxy. To apply for a proxy vote, complete the form to vote by proxy, explaining why you can't get to your polling station in person.
 
The deadline to apply for a postal vote in England and Wales is 5pm on 20 April.  The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 5pm on 27 April. Don’t forget that however you choose to vote, you must be registered first.
6.REDISCOVER READING: SHOPPING, EATING AND THINGS TO DO FROM 12 APRIL



From 12 April, many of our much-missed Reading businesses will be re-opening with a firm emphasis on the outdoors. Good timing for the last week of the school Easter holidays!
 
Outdoor attractions can begin to reopen from next week – take a look at some ideas for local things to do. Pre-booking is essential in many cases. 
 
Many of our best-loved bars, cafes and restaurants have been offering delivery services during lockdown to keep us, and them, going, but those with outdoor space can now also open for table service (outside-only) from 12 April. Find out more with this handy map guide.
 
All non-essential shops that have been closed during lockdown can re-open from 12 April. Reading town centre businesses, from John Lewis and M&S to the little independents, are looking forward to welcoming you back. Find out more about shopping in Reading. 
 
The warmer weather and a great choice of outdoor locations is ideal for getting us all active again and feeling more human. Try out Caversham Lake’s aqua park, tennis in public parks, walking the Thames Path or explore the Abbey Ruins. Whatever you do, have fun, but don’t forget to keep everyone safe.
 
For more ideas on things to do to #RediscoverReading, visit livingreading.co.uk/visit/explore-reading
KEEP UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST COVID-19 RESPONSE NEWS FROM READING BOROUGH COUNCIL

With the latest advice and service information changing regularly, you can keep up to date by following our dedicated page to the Covid-19 response here: https://www.reading.gov.uk/coronavirus
Please also follow us on Facebook and Twitter (links below) for regular updates.
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