Politics

Public toilets told to reopen as outdoor wees pose 'harm to public health'


The government has demanded public toilets reopen after warning the number of people relieving themselves outdoors poses a “harm to public health”.

Ministers wrote to town halls in England today calling on them to reopen any loos that are still shuttered to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Toilets in parks and other public places were closed from March to prevent transmission of the virus.

But that has left many people in a tight spot as parks reopen to social groups of up to six people – but many toilets do not.

Local government minister Simon Clarke and environment minister Rebecca Pow wrote to council chiefs today urging them to reopen loos.

Toilets in parks and other public places were closed from March

They said: “Councils should consider the harm to public health and the local environment caused by people relieving themselves in public.”

The ministers warned the situation has got worse as the weather heats up.

And people with bowel conditions have told of avoiding trips outdoors altogether due to anxiety about where to find a toilet.

They added: “Public hygiene is of the upmost importance, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and enabling residents to access toilets safely is vital.

“Handwashing is an important activity to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“Enabling residents to access toilets safely is vital. Handwashing is important”

“Closed toilets may also impact disproportionately on certain groups who for health reasons rely on access to public toilets to be able to leave their homes.

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“They can also make life difficult for young families and people who work outside.

“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.”

The ministers also slammed some unnamed councils for slapping “excessively tight restrictions” on tips.

They said social distancing should be maintained, but poor access to dumps could prompt fly-tipping.

The ministers urged councils not to use “unnecessarily tight restrictions like a limited number of pre-booked slots.”

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “Councils have been taking individual local decisions about public toilets they control based on a risk assessment and whether social distancing measures can be maintained.”





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