Reopening the high streets

1 June 2020

Following the latest announcement from the Government, plans are being finalised for how to safely reopen town centres and high streets in the Borough. 

Giving shoppers and visitors confidence about their personal safety is the most important priority in the plans to support businesses and public spaces to re-open.

Emphasis will be placed on the appropriate use and operation of:
  • highways and public footpaths including pedestrianisation of certain areas, widening footways, implementing one-way walking systems or other local arrangements to ensure effective social distancing 
  • support businesses around the appropriate use of public land and highways outside their premises to put in place queueing, access management and / or alfresco dining arrangement (when this is allowed). 
  • car parking, bus stations and taxi ranks 
The key areas of focus will be:
  • Chester City Centre
  • Northwich Town Centre
  • Winsford Town Centre
  • Ellesmere Port Town Centre
  • Neston
  • Frodsham
  • A toolkit with guidance will be produced for town and parish councils, smaller high streets and shopping areas
Last week Cheshire West and Chester Council was awarded £305,395 from the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund (European Regional Development Fund), which will help taking forward initiatives to support businesses to re-open safely. 

Some areas of the borough will present more challenges than others to maintain social distancing.  For example, in Chester some roads will need to be pedestrianised on a temporary basis in order to increase space for people to move around the city safely. In Ellesmere Port, one-way pedestrian routes are being introduced from the bus station to Port Arcades which itself is introducing a one-way system and reduced entrances to help social distancing. 

Alongside these social distancing measures, there will be an extensive programme of schemes to encourage walking and cycling, plus the Council will be looking to support businesses with more “Alfresco” or outdoor dining areas wherever possible, so people can spend time in open, outdoor public spaces and still maintain appropriate distances. Shoppers have got used to the queuing measures adopted by supermarkets, and as shops reopen, similar actions will be seen on high streets to maintain a safe number of people inside shops. 

Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: “We are entering the next phase of tackling Covid-19. It is important to remember that the virus hasn’t gone away, so the measures we are taking are to protect lives whilst also starting the careful process of reopening our high streets. 

“The measures we are introducing will rely on the co-operation of everyone. The actions we are taking will be constantly reviewed, I look forward to a time beyond the crisis where we can freely come together, but for now we must do everything we can to maintain the distancing measures that will reduce the chances of a second wave. We will continue to work with all our partners in town centres across the Borough to support businesses to re-open with customer safety as a top priority.”

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