Despite pleas to reopen public toilets now lockdown restrictions are easing, some councils have decided to keep them shut to avoid any ‘unnecessary risk’.
Some areas of the Island have had no access to public toilets since the start of lockdown, as a way to prevent the spread of the virus.
IWC: No specific government guidance
An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson said the decision to open a public toilet would rest with individual councils.
“There is not currently any specific government guidance, but we would suggest a common-sense approach should be taken.
“There is nothing in the current regulations requiring toilets to be shut. Those responsible for managing toilet blocks would need to undertake a risk assessment for any staff cleaning or supporting this facility.
“Infection control for users and the potential spread of Covid-19 should also be considered.”
Across the Island, some councils have decided to open the stall doors.
After ‘extensive consideration’, Sandown Town Council decided to open public toilets at Yaverland, Eastern Gardens and St John’s last weekend, but only from 9am to 6pm.
Deep cleans were undertaken, signage and guidance provided, with distancing markers and hand sanitising stations part of the arrangements to re-opening.
PPE for Cowes toilet cleaners
Cowes Town Council, however, opened public toilets from 13th May, when unlimited exercise was allowed and requests for them to open started coming in.
A spokesperson for the town council said the cleaners had personal protective equipment to protect themselves and extra effort was made to sanitise all contact surfaces. They said,
“These are public facilities and users must take ‘personal responsibility’ and use common sense when using a communal facility: maintain social distancing and wash your hands thoroughly on exiting the premises.”
Councils under fire
However, not all have councils have chosen this approach.
Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council has recently come under fire for not opening any conveniences in the town centre, leaving people who need a quick comfort break with the only option of supermarkets available.
In a local bulletin, a representative of the community council said the decision to ‘close and keep closed’ the toilets had been met with complaints from those who disagreed.
East Cowes Town Council has also said their decision was based on the duty of care they have to the staff and community considering reopening the toilets and unnecessary risk, but will be reviewing it on a regular basis.
Ryde Town Council has kept the majority of toilets closed but easy access facilities are open for Radar key holders although hope to open the general facilities soon having undertaken risk assessments and addressing the issues.
Until restrictions are lifted, or councillors agree otherwise, public toilets in Yarmouth will remain shut.
Shanklin Town Council are ‘deciding very soon’ whether to reopen the toilets when non-essential shops do on 15th June, with measures in place so they are safe for staff and residents and have asked people to ‘respect that’.
Ventnor Town Council made the decision to close their toilets based on a detailed risk assessment.
They will remain closed until further notice.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed