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Town centre changes to ensure social distancing for Bishop's Stortford pedestrians

The key message to pedestrians as Bishop's Stortford town centre looks to reopen under coronavirus lockdown easing measures will be: "Keep left".

Proposals include restricting vehicles from using South Street and Potter Street up to the Market Square crossroads junction with High Street, North Street and Bridge Street. Changes in Station Road, where the pavements are especially narrow, are also under consideration.

The town's BID (Business Improvement District) group, the town council and East Herts district council are working together to ensure safe social distancing in the commercial heart. Hertfordshire police and the county council, which is the highways authority, are also involved in formulating new restrictions following Government advice from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to make walking and cycling easier.

South Street before lockdown
South Street before lockdown

The cost of new signs in the town centre is to be shared by the town and district councils, and the BID will remind users about safe distances, using shared space sensibly and observing marked queuing areas.

Gina Thomas, the BID manager, said: "We are working on a phase 1 plan for June 1 reopening and will monitor this and adapt as needs be. On July 4 we will see more businesses opening and the plan will be reassessed then.

"We will be working to keep this as simple as possible, with a key message being 'Keep left'. We're producing some resources for businesses to help and we'll be encouraging each business to follow the guidelines from Government and to talk to their neighbours to ensure queues outside the shop are managed and not taking up too much room on the pavement."

Boots, Potter Street, Bishops Stortford..Pic: Vikki Lince. (34890534)
Boots, Potter Street, Bishops Stortford..Pic: Vikki Lince. (34890534)

The Government's 60-page recovery strategy sets out a phased return for shops and businesses across the country: "Opening non-essential retail when and where it is safe to do so, and subject to those retailers being able to follow the new Covid-19 Secure guidelines. The intention is for this to happen in phases from June 1; the Government will issue further guidance shortly on the approach that will be taken to phasing, including which businesses will be covered in each phase and the timeframes involved.

"All other sectors that are currently closed, including hospitality and personal care, are not able to reopen at this point because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher. The opening of such sectors is likely to take place in phases during step three."

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