PROVISIONS have been made across Dorset to enable NHS workers and care home staff to park for free throughout the lockdown.
BCP Council is operating its critical worker scheme, which means all those with valid health exemption permits – including NHS, health and social care workers – can park for free while in ‘residents only’ bays while carrying out their duties.
The council is also operating a fixed workplace scheme, which offers a nominated BCP Council parking space, free of charge and with no time limit, for health workers.
Health workers need to apply and are able to nominate up to three fixed workplaces.
Meanwhile, free parking in Dorset Council car parks for NHS and care workers will also remain in place throughout the current lockdown.
Health service and care workers can continue to use any Dorset Council-operated car park free of charge, provided they are on duty and displaying a relevant permit, or they have registered with the council.
Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council member for travel, said: “I’m pleased to continue our support for colleagues in the NHS and care sectors by extending our free parking offer to the end of February.
“These workers are providing a vital service to some of our most vulnerable and isolated residents.”
Originally run for a limited time early last year, free parking was reinstated during the November lockdown period, and continued throughout December.
The extension of the free parking for NHS and care workers will be reviewed by councillors on a monthly basis.
Car parks across the BCP Council area will also remain open for others during the period.
BCP Coucnil-owned car parks were closed in April during the first lockdown.
However, they were left open during the second lockdown in November to encourage people to take part in outdoor exercise and support takeaway businesses.
Councillor Nicola Greene, BCP Council member for public health said: “We are carefully following the government’s stated advice, which specifically says that car parks and public toilets can remain open, and that leaving home for exercise is reasonable and is permitted once a day, in places such as parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests, public gardens, the grounds of a heritage site and playgrounds.
“Whilst we have excellent provision of these spaces in the BCP area, not everyone is fortunate enough to live within and easy walking or cycling distance of them, and government advice therefore permits people to travel locally for exercise, including to access public open space.”
To register as a NHS worker for free off-street parking while working in the Dorset Council area, email email@example.com, providing your full name, evidence of employer details and vehicle registration number.
Vehicles already registered for the scheme do not need to re-apply and will be automatically extended on the parking services system.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply within the BCP Council area.
Residents are once again reminded to follow government guidelines and adhere to social distancing rules when venturing outdoors.
Cllr Greene added: “Everyone must take personal responsibility for their own actions to combat the spread of Covid-19.
“Wherever we take our outdoor exercise, this means carefully observing social distancing, and maintaining hand hygiene.
“If places appear too busy, people should head elsewhere in their local area in order to help protect themselves and others.”