Social distancing queues markers, hand sanitising stations and wider footpaths in the BID area are just a few of the measures that GO! Southampton are implementing as part of its phased return recovery plan in partnership with Southampton City Council to ensure a safe and welcoming city centre for visitors, residents and businesses.
Central Government has recently issued COVID guidance for creating safer public places which focused on urban centre and green spaces. As part of that guidance they released a 10-step process to identify issues and interventions which help maintain social distancing in these areas. This process will be utilised to help plan and implement best practices to create a safer city centre experience.
During lockdown GO! Southampton has been participating in weekly virtual recovery meetings with Southampton City Council to plan how to safely reopen the city and support their levy payers. Council officers from the transport, economic development, city services, highways and planning departments have been included in these meeting to cover all aspects of the city. The BID is also actively liaising with Hampshire Constabulary on best practice to make sure the city centre environment is as safe as possible for the welcoming return of visitors, workers and residents.
Some of the interventions the BID and the Council are considering include suspending on-street parking and utilising carriageways to widen footpaths to allow for social distancing measures. Areas like Bedford Place and East Street would particularly benefit from this where narrow pathways are prevalent.
Queue markers are also being considered around areas of expected high footfall such as Above Bar Street and High Street whilst it may be necessary to introduce clearly marked one-way queues and exit systems to allow shoppers a hassle-free experience. Any new procedures put in place will be visibly signed especially at conflict points such as crossings and junctions. The queue markers will be installed on 13 June ahead of non-essential retailers opening their doors.
With these new possible measures additional stewards or security may be needed to help manage queues and pedestrian flows in the city. Whilst planning these queuing systems and how to effectively put in place social distancing measures with the Council, the needs of the disabled and the elderly as well as extra security will be taken into account.
Additional cleaning regimes are already in place to ensure high contact areas of the city centre are being safely and routinely cleaned, ready for when visitors return to the city. The BID’s cleaning team are working in partnership with Southampton City Council’s cleaning team to jet wash and disinfect public furniture with antiviral spray across the city centre on a daily rotation. More measures are being thought through to allow for extra cleaning.
The BID will continue to focus their efforts on the requirements and needs of their levy payers to help them safely return to work. Following the recent Government timeline for businesses, a number of non-essential retailers are expected to reopen within the city on or soon after 15June. In response, GO! Southampton sent an email bulletin to levy payers giving guidance on how to safely reopen their premises, which is now available to view online. Advice from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) will be utilised to help businesses manage their own footprint and how best return to work.
Giles Semper, Executive Director says, “Our aim is to reassure customers that they can now safely come back to the city centre, with advice on social distancing and guidance on where to queue for individual retailers. We will, of course, rely on people to take responsibility, stay safe and respect others, in the true spirit of Southampton. With the Council, we are delighted that the government recently announced the £50m Reopening High Street Safely Fund and that the city will get a share of it.”
If businesses wish to speak to GO! Southampton about their individual needs and arrangements, they can fill out the recovery survey here or alternatively get in touch with the team on email@example.com.