PUBLIC safety measures that support social distancing are the top priority for city centre partners working to support the successful reopening of Cambridge city centre shops and offices from 15 June.
As businesses start to emerge from the national lockdown caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, Cambridge City Council, Cambridge BID, Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Greater Cambridge Partnership and Stagecoach have been working together to put in place a programme of practical measures to help shoppers, workers and visitors return to the city centre.
The measures are geared to helping people get around the city centre safely and conveniently, while maintaining social distancing. They will also support shops and other businesses as they resume trading and seek to attract much needed custom.
From 15 June, people visiting Cambridge city centre can expect to see the following changes:
- City centre stewards offering advice and help with the new management measures, including social distancing, wayfinding and other changes to the city centre;
- Widened footways along sections of Regent Street, Bene’t Street and Bridge Street using temporary barriers;
- Advisory vehicle restrictions on Market Hill to allow safe operation of the city centre market;
- Fully pedestrianised areas and one-way systems with enforcement of traffic restrictions;
- Signage to encourage people to walk on the left hand footway to help with safe pedestrian flows on narrow pavements;
- One way access to narrow passageways such as All Saints Passage and Market Passage;
- New pedestrian and cycle signage to help pedestrians and cyclists navigate the city centre safely;
- Social distancing floor stickers to be used by businesses to help with customer queue management. These are also in place in multi-storey car parks to help customers queuing at payment machines and to guide access to and use of lifts and stairwells;
- The central market will continue to be open with traders using perimeter pitches only. The council is developing a plan for reopening as many of the market’s other pitches as possible, taking account of the physical layout of the market, with its high stall density, narrow inner aisles and surrounding highway frontage which presents a range of health and safety challenges.
All of these measures will be monitored and may need to be adapted depending on their effectiveness and how national guidance changes.
Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, said: “We know that sticking to social distancing advice is really important and that is why our plan for the reopening of the city centre focuses on that.
“Businesses are emerging from an extremely difficult time and we want to do all we can to support them as they welcome shoppers back.
“Our city centre has a medieval layout that includes narrow lanes and streets, posing real challenges when it comes to keeping people safely apart.
“There is no doubt that we will need everyone who is visiting or working in the city centre to help by staying two metres apart to make it work.
“I would also encourage anyone travelling in to walk or cycle if they can. Anyone using public transport should follow social distancing measures and the guidance on use of face coverings.
“This is a testing time for all of us and as we move forward with our package of measures we will continue to work together to keep everything under review and make further changes where we need to.”
Cambridge BID has been helping businesses with advice and support on a range of matters including personal protective equipment, on-street pedestrian management guidelines and clear signage and information ready for their reopening.
Ian Sandison, Chief Executive of Cambridge BID, said: “It has been a very challenging time for businesses and we have been supporting them during this period whilst some have remained trading and more recently as many are planning to reopen.
“Making consumers feel safe and confident is key to a successful return to trading and our guidelines, signs and posters will contribute towards this.
“We are working closely with the various local authorities to increase the amount of space for pedestrians and explore where more tables and outside seating can be installed.”
Cllr Ian Bates, Chair of the Highways and Transport Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We’ve been working closely with town, district and city councils and the Combined Authority to ensure that when shoppers return to our high streets, they have enough space to observe social distancing and are clear about what they are supposed to do.
“Our county’s high streets, like the entire nation, have felt the impact of a loss of trade for many weeks. Now shoppers are returning, we are doing everything we can to support the vibrancy of towns and cities and to ensure customers can return in a safe way by providing the space to allow them to keep two metres apart.”
Chief Inspector Nick Skipworth of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said: “The Constabulary has worked with partners to offer advice as to how we can make the reopening of the historic city centre as safe as possible. Our city centre neighbourhood officers will be on hand to continue that support as businesses reopen.”
Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, Chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s Executive Board, said: “These safety measures will play a vital part in our economic recovery from Covid-19, and complement the recent announcements by the GCP and the county council to make it easier and safer for people to access the city on foot or on their bicycle.
“This excellent example of partnership work will not only support people and businesses in the short-term, but provide a strong foundation for our aims to create a step-change in the way people get around to create a more healthy and sustainable Greater Cambridge.”
People travelling to the city centre are advised to follow national advice on travelling, including observing social distancing rules and rules on face coverings on public transport: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers
Michelle Hargreaves, Managing Director of Stagecoach, said: “During this time, local Stagecoach bus services will be increasing in frequency to meet the demand of visitors to the city centre.
“Buses are adhering to social distancing measures and enhancing touch point cleaning to ensure the safety of all customers.”
Shoppers are encouraged to check the opening times of individual shops as they will not all be open and some may be operating different opening times.
Map showing where measures will be implemented: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/media/8422/coronavirus-city-centre-recovery-map.pdf [PDF, 0.9MB]