In line with government guidance, preparations are being made to enable the re-opening of more retailers which have been closed during the pandemic.
Following the Government’s announcement that non-essential retail could re-open from 15 June, a grant has been made available to support local authorities to re-open high streets safely.
Clear signage and floor markings will be in place to remind people to socially distance themselves from people not in their household while shared spaces, such as benches, will be cleaned regularly.
College Street, near Tesco Metro, will be closed to traffic from 15 June until further notice to pedestrianise this area of the town and allow for queuing systems to be safely implemented.
Bristol Street and Brunel North car parks will be re-opened as of 15 June to welcome more visitors to the town centre, while Spring Gardens will remain closed. Public toilets will also remain closed, in line with government advice.
The Council is also working with bus operators to ensure safety measures are implemented both on the buses and at the bus station to promote social distancing. Guidance for those using buses for essential travel can be found at bus shelters and government guidance states that face coverings should be worn on public transport from Monday (15 June), with some exceptions.
Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “As we ease our way out of lockdown, we need to do everything we can to support businesses who have had to close their premises over the last few months. However, the priority still needs to be the safety of those working in and visiting these retail areas by ensuring that government guidance is being followed.
“We have been working closely with businesses and transport providers over the last few weeks to prepare for the re-opening of the town centre as well as other shopping districts in the town and will continue to support them over the weeks and months ahead.”
Mark Rogers, Interim BID Manager from inSwindon BID, said: “Lockdown has been a challenging time for us all, more so for our businesses in the town centre who have faced difficulties in changing habits and more people choosing to shop online even before lockdown. Although safety is our key priority, and we’re working with the Council to ensure our Street Team Ambassadors and Caretaker support the key messaging and that social distancing is adhered to, we would encourage visitors back into our town centre to support the local economy.
“We have been in regular communication with our businesses, ensuring they have the Government guidelines to allow them to reopen in a safe manner. As anticipated, footfall has seen a dramatic decrease over the last couple of months, as have other towns and cities, but we now look forward to welcoming visitors back, supporting the economy, whilst staying safe.”
Further information about the support and guidance being offered from the Council during the pandemic can be found at: www.swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus.