Lincolnshire’s gritters have not been blessed ahead of going out this year due to concerns over COVID-19 — but council transport bosses say the tradition will carry on.
The annual blessings, carried out by Lincolnshire bishops since 2003, are supposed to use prayer in a bid to limit the number of accidents and other tragic events on the roads.
Bishops who carried out the tradition previously have said there has been a “dramatic reduction” in the number of deaths
It’s the first time at least 10 years that the annual service has not taken place.
Gritters were deployed by Lincolnshire County Council on Friday following snowfall in the morning and ahead of sleet, rain and further icy weather this weekend, which is likely to cause treacherous conditions.
Further gritting runs are expected to take place.
Karen Cassar, assistant director for highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Given the threat of COVID-19, we’ve been restricting visits to our depots and we didn’t think it was appropriate to gather people together for the blessing ceremony this year.
“We hope we can bring the tradition back next year.”
She said the teams were well prepared for the winter season and were monitoring the weather 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.
However, she warned: “If you have to go out in wintry weather, please remember that grit isn’t magic dust, it takes time to work and treated roads can still be icy.
“Make sure you drive to the conditions.”
The council has 43 gritters on standby and more than 25,000 tons of salt in storage – last year the authority used 15,858 tons.
In an average winter, the council would expect to use between 18,500 to 20,000 tons
They cover 1,900 miles of road including all the A and B roads.