Social distancing plans for town centre

Friday 15 May 2020

Hertfordshire County Council are liaising with partner authorities to look at how town centres can be adapted to work with social distancing.

Together with Public Health, East Herts District and the Town Council, the initiative will focus on the town's main shopping areas, where increases in people visiting shops is likely to be high, as the lockdown restrictions gradually ease over the coming months, . The temporary measures are intended to help support public health by encouraging people to use high street shops and public places in a safe way.

Ware has been identified as one of a number of towns where the existing layouts would present a challenge to social distancing as people return and the measures shops and businesses put in place are likely to require more space on footpaths. 

The councils are drawing up plans to identify what steps may be necessary and viable, such as closing roads to traffic, removing parking or narrowing of roads to create more pedestrian and cycle space. Considerations will also be given to the need for access to public transport, emergency services, deliveries and accessibility for the disabled.

Councillor Phil Bibby, Cabinet Member for Highways and Environment, said: "The safety and security of those who live and work in Hertfordshire is a top priority for us at Hertfordshire County Council. We are working closely with our public health partners to ensure we have the right measures in place to allow people to safely go about their business in town centres and enable them to socially distance as they do so. This is a rapidly moving project and we aim to be in a position to start rolling out some of the measures within the next 10 days. While this project looks at the 16 locations identified, we are aware that there will be a range of other shopping locations where business owners may need to implement social distancing measures within their premises, which could impact on footpaths, and we may need to expand to other locations."

Councillor Linda Haysey, Leader of East Herts Council and chair of the community reassurance cell of the Local Resilience Forum, commented: "As we look to enter a new phase and get the economy moving again, we need to encourage greater footfall for our traders by creating spaces across Hertfordshire’s high streets and town centres that allow for social distancing and make residents, workers and shoppers feel safe. In addition, we are keeping a close eye on the wider road network as the use of public transport and the increase in walking and cycling may result in the need to adapt the wider network to support these sustainable modes."

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