A special ‘drive-thru’ service has enabled the families of more than a hundred babies born in County Durham to register their births.
Local authorities were forced to suspend birth registrations in March in response to Government guidance on preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Changes to the rules mean that councils are now able to restart services but preparation work, such as the installation of protective screens is needed to allow for social distancing in register offices.
Due to the demand for the service, Durham County Council has introduced a temporary drive-thru service to allow families to register their child’s births now.
Parents are given an appointment to visit Aykley Heads House Register Office in Durham and are asked to remain in their car when they arrive.
A registrar then calls the parents’ mobile and takes all the required information over the phone. The parents are then asked to step into the foyer of the building where their ID is checked, the paperwork signed and the birth certificate handed over – all in line with social distancing and handwashing measures.
In the past two weeks, 102 babies’ births have been registered in this way, including that of lockdown baby Theo George Todd, from Darlington. Theo was born on 27 April but his parents Ryan Todd and Kathryn Farrell had not been able to register his birth until this week.
Primary school teacher Kathryn said: “We’re glad that Theo George is finally official after a very quick and east registration process.”
Registrar Jade Harker, who issued Theo’s birth certificate, said: “It’s nice to have a bit of normality after the past few months. Being able to see the babies is lovely – even if it is from a distance.
“All the parents have been so grateful that their baby is now official and has a birth certificate – and that they can even apply for them to have their own passports now.”
Cllr Alan Napier, Deputy Leader of Durham County Council, said: “We know that many parents have been keen to register their babies’ births and that not being able to has been frustrating for them.
“It’s great that registrations can now take place but we do need to take some time to make sure that our register offices can accommodate social distancing and I hope that people will bear with us while we carry out this work.”
“In the meantime, I am really pleased that we have been able to introduce the drive-thru service and that so many parents have already been able to finally collect birth certificates for their children.
“Our registration staff have been working particularly hard over the past few months and I would like to thank them for their dedication and commitment.”
To register a birth, email firstname.lastname@example.org.