Local Government Minister Simon Clarke and Environment Minister Rebecca Pow write to councils setting out the government’s position on public access to household waste recycling centres and municipal public toilets.
In an excerpt the letter reads:
‘If you have toilets that are still shut, then we strongly urge you to refer to advice on measures that can be taken to open toilets in a safe way that was included in COVID-19 guidance published by Government and which we have included in the Annex below this letter.
The combination of the hotter weather and the Government’s push to support outdoor hospitality has reinforced the need for public access to toilets. Again, councils should consider the harm to public health and the local environment caused by people relieving themselves in public. Public authorities should also consider the equality implications of those with particular health needs who need to use the toilet more often.
In both cases, this is not to condone or tolerate irresponsible and illegal behaviour, but councils have a key role in helping prevent such problems thanks to the provision of comprehensive municipal services. It is beneficial to public health to ensure proper access to tips and toilets.
Thank you once again for the work you are doing to support your communities and businesses.’
Guidance for councils on opening public toilets
Public toilets, portable toilets and toilets inside premises should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Steps that will usually be needed:
• Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency and to avoid touching your face, and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
• Consider the use of social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, and the adoption of a limited entry approach, with one in, one out (whilst avoiding the creation of additional bottlenecks).
• To enable good hand hygiene consider making hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets where safe and practical, and ensure suitable handwashing facilities including running water and liquid soap and suitable options for drying (either paper towels or hand driers) are available.
• Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, with increased frequency of cleaning in line with usage. Use normal cleaning products, paying attention to frequently hand touched surfaces, and consider use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces.
• Keep the facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate.
• Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets and larger toilet blocks.
• Putting up a visible cleaning schedule can keep it up to date and visible.
• Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.