Coronavirus - COVID-19

Impact on council services

Some of our services are changing to help protect our most vulnerable people from coronavirus.

Planning

Our planning team has had to introduce some changes to the ways they work.

Libraries

We are delighted to welcome customers back in through the doors at all our of libraries. Customers are able to come inside, browse the shelves and pick some top reads to take home. They are be able to book a 45-minute slot to use the library computers. Photocopying and printing are also be available. Customers who do not wish to enter the library can still use our Select and Collect service and pick up their free reservations and book bundles from the library entrance.

All customers should continue to return books using the box or table at the library entrance. New customers will be able to join the library, however where possible we ask that customers join online before they visit as this will reduce the time needed to collect their library card. Charges for overdue items and requests will be re-introduced at a later date. Residents can also continue to access our virtual library and the range of online events, e-books and audiobooks available to the public online.

Biggleswade, Dunstable, Flitwick, Houghton Regis, Leighton Buzzard, Sandy and Shefford libraries are open to customers during the following hours:

  • Tuesday 9am to 6pm
  • Wednesday 9am to 6pm
  • Thursday 9am to 6pm
  • Friday 9am to 6pm
  • Saturday 9am to 4pm

Ampthill, Barton-le-Clay, Potton, Stotfold, and Toddington libraries are open to customers during the following hours:

  • Tuesday 9am to 1pm
  • Wednesday 2pm to 6pm
  • Thursday 9am to 1pm
  • Friday 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm
  • Saturday 9am to 4pm

To ensure that everyone is safe and feels comfortable using our libraries the following measures are in place:

  • no access for those who have COVID-19 symptoms or should be self-isolating for any other reason
  • face coverings must be worn when using the library, unless you have an exemption; users will be expected to socially distance throughout their visit
  • users will be asked to scan the NHS Test and Trace QR code as they enter the library, alternatively they will be asked to complete a Test and Trace form
  • the number of visitors will be limited; users will be asked to visit alone where possible, or in their household or support bubble
  • hand sanitisation stations will be available at the entrance to the library and within the building
  • library cards will be needed to use the self-service equipment for borrowing books
  • public computers need to be booked in advance by telephone

We would like thank all our users for their valuable support and look forward to welcoming them all back very soon.

Leisure centres

In line with the latest government announcement, restrictions were lifted across our leisure centres from 19 July 2021. We’ve been working closely with our leisure operator, Stevenage Leisure Ltd (SLL), and we will continue with certain measures below to make sure customers and staff are safe.

We'll ensure:

  • sanitising stations remain available in all our leisure centres as well as screens in busy areas and we will continue with our enhanced cleaning procedures
  • face coverings are being encouraged to be worn in ‘close contact’ (within 2 metres for 15 minutes) situations such as prolonged busy queues and bottlenecked areas
  • SLL staff will wear face masks where customers preference and when in ‘close contact’ areas
  • capacities have increased capacities in group exercise classes, gyms and swimming pools, but certain sessions will have managed capacities to assist customers
  • SLL plans timetables with gaps, encouraging swimmers and gym / class goers to come already changed for their activity to reduce queues
  • all sites are COVID-secure but one-way systems may be altered in certain sites, but we have kept one way systems in some of the sites as restrictions ease
  • showers, changing rooms and sauna and steam areas will open but will have higher levels of cleaning and monitoring
  • leisure sites are working on keeping queuing down to a minimum and reducing times where people are standing indoors unnecessarily

Social distancing measures will no longer be in place in the gym or during classes. On-demand classes will also still be available for customers who would like to continue with home workouts and certain SLL Sites will continue to offer outdoor classes. Swimming sessions will still require you to pre-book. Please check SLL's website for more details.

The centres are open to both members and non-members. Find your nearest leisure centre.

These measures will be continuously reviewed and adapted, if necessary, throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

It is important to remember that if you have display any COVID-19 symptoms please do not come to any leisure centre.

Theatre services

Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre: While we want to re-open Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre as soon as possible, we won’t be in a position to for some time yet. We are currently completing works to adapt our current layout and seating to comply with social distancing. There are also changes being made to our online booking systems. We will provide you with an update as soon as possible.

The Grove Theatre: SLL, which runs the Grove Theatre, has confirmed it plans to re-open doors on 19 July. Should you have a ticket enquiry please contact the box office team and a member of the team will be in contact as soon as possible.

Biggleswade skatepark

Biggleswade Skatepark re-opened on 29 March. We would like to remind residents to please follow the guidance in place and take any rubbish home with you.

Our other outdoor spaces including parks, countryside sites, public gardens and outdoor playgrounds remain open with restrictions in place.

Housing

In line with government advice for minimising person-to-person contact, we've put measures in place to conduct repairs and maintenance safely, if they are inside someone’s home.

We've reduced group recreational activities in housing and independent living schemes.

Find out more about the housing changes we've made

Care homes

From 19 July, there are no restrictions on the number of visitors, however, residents should still identify their named visitors and visitors must continue to contact the care home to plan arrangements prior to their visit.

Every care home resident can nominate an essential care giver who may visit the home to attend to essential care needs.

In order to reduce the risk of infection to the resident and others in the home, all visitors must:

  • take a rapid lateral flow test either on arrival at the care home or prior to any visit producing a negative result and be able to show proof of the result. The test must be done on the same day as the visit
  • wear appropriate PPE and follow all other infection prevention and control measures as advised by the care home
  • limit contact with residents and staff and, maintain as much distance as possible. Hugging presents a higher risk but will be safer if it is between people who have been double-vaccinated
  • handholding with loved ones is allowed but handwashing protocols should be followed
  • care home managers can also continue to offer visits to friends or family members through arrangements such as outdoor visiting, rooms with substantial screens, visiting pods, or from behind windows
  • essential care givers will follow the same testing arrangements and the same PPE and infection control arrangements, as care home staff

In the event of an outbreak in a care home all visiting will be immediately stopped. Essential care givers can continue to visit, but not if the essential care giver or resident are COVID-positive.

Residents can leave their care homes to attend a day centre, visit a friend, or go on walks in public places, such as parks, public gardens and beaches. Residents are not expected to self-isolate on their return from visits that are assessed as low risk. If appropriate they should be accompanied by their essential care giver, a care worker or named visitor and should avoid using public transport and crowded places. Where a resident is visiting a location with an existing testing regime, they should take part in the relevant testing arrangements for that organisation where possible.

Vaccination remains our strongest defence against COVID-19 as it significantly reduces the transmission of the virus, as well as hospitalisations and deaths, particularly following two doses. It is therefore crucial that visitors, residents and staff take the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Day centres update

We are reviewing our day centre services and currently assessing people with greatest need first to see what support they require. 

We are only offering people the opportunity to return to a day centre by exception, this is where other support and services cannot meet their needs and returning to a day centre is deemed the safest option for them.

Where we can offer alternative support and services safely to our customers this will be provided. 

At the same time, we are considering the best way we can offer day services for the future, taking into consideration the challenges we have had and what we have learned.

Our aim is to provide a service which meets people’s needs effectively in a variety of ways.

Registration service (including weddings and civil partnerships)

Registration offices are closed with the exception of The Court House, Woburn Street, Ampthill, MK45 2HX, which is open by appointment only.

Find out how our registration services are affected