Coastal car parks across South Tyneside are set to reopen from Monday (18 May) following revised government guidance around exercise and travelling.
The Council closed its Foreshore car parks last month in line with Government rules around staying at home, non-essential travel and exercising close to home.
However revised guidance lifts certain restrictions with people now allowed to exercise as often as they wish and, from Wednesday 13 May, to drive to publicly accessible open spaces.
Following the announcement, the Council has carried out a thorough assessment of its car parking services to ensure they can operate safely and in line with rules around social distancing. Car parks in Council parks and those along the foreshore will now be reopened on a rolling programme, starting from 8am on Monday, as will public toilets.
Cllr Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: "We have all played a part in helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus across our communities and I would like to thank the people of South Tyneside for adhering to the restrictions that have been in place to help keep us all safe.
"The measure to close the coastal car parks supported the Government rules around staying at home and only exercising close to home.
"However, we are now moving to the next phase of the fight against coronavirus with changes in Government rules enabling us to start reintroducing services to as near normal as possible.
"Following the revised guidance, our parking teams have been carrying out risk assessments to enable us to reopen all of our car parks safely.
"Coronavirus is not over and we must not be complacent. We all still have a part to play in keeping ourselves and others safe and I would urge people to continue to stay at home as much as they can. When they do go out, visiting our parks and beaches, it is essential that they still follow the rules around social distancing and staying safe."
The following coastal car parks will be reopened from Monday 18 May: Whitburn Bents, Marsden Lea, Trow Quarry, The Dragon, South Promenade South, South Promenade North, Pierhead, Pier Parade, Harbour Drive South and Harbour Drive North. Car parks in Coulthard Park and Cornthwaite Park will also be reinstated.
On-street and off-street parking in town centres will continue to operate.
Visitors are strongly encouraged to use the cashless PayByPhone method of payment wherever possible in order to pay for parking without using coins. Visitors are advised to download the PayByPhone app beforehand - registration takes less than 30 seconds.
PaybyPhone enables people to start and extend their parking session in seconds using their mobile and will support them to avoid handling cash and help to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus to other visitors and staff. Parking machines and key pads will also be cleaned regularly.
Details of Council car parks and PayByPhone are available on the Council's website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/parking
Visitors to the coast are also reminded of the risks around water and cliffs and to take the necessary steps to keep themselves safe.
Councillor Atkinson said: "Although our beaches are open, social distancing must still be observed and this means there will be less people around to spot anyone in difficulty or danger. Entering the water is too risky.
"We want people to stay safe and well until we can properly start enjoying our beaches again. Therefore, we would strongly urge anyone who is planning a visit to the coast to take extra care and always follow the RNLI safety advice."
- Take care near cliffs - know the route and limitations;
- Have a plan - check the weather forecast and tide times;
- If anyone falls into water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE - fight the instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend arms and legs, and float;
- If boating, ensure equipment is functioning and maintained;
- In any coastal emergency dial 999, or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.
For further information and regular updates about the services affected by coronavirus visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coronavirus or follow on social media channels on Facebook STynesideCouncil and on Twitter @STyne_Council.