Council plans for the safe reopening of high streets
West Oxfordshire District Council is working alongside retailers and small independent shops across the District to safely reopen and welcome local people back into town centres, with customer safety paramount.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement earlier this month regarding plans to restart the economy and ease lockdown restrictions over a planned period, the Council is working with retailers and market traders to assist wherever possible with the phased re-opening of shops in our town centres.
Cllr Toby Morris, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “We are taking a proactive safety-first approach to reopen town centres. Our goal is to help our district to recover as quickly as possible and we are committed to supporting businesses through the current situation and beyond. We want to encourage all our residents to shop locally and support West Oxfordshire businesses.
“As lockdown restrictions begin to ease we will be providing them with the tools and guidance they need to reopen with confidence and become more resilient.
“We have produced a checklist for local business, including retailers, on how to work safely during the coronavirus outbreak and how to maintain social distancing, to keep both employees and customers safe.
“We are also producing posters and social distance floor markers to provide practical assistance for town centre businesses which have walk-in customers. These will be delivered to businesses in the coming weeks and any business that does not receive one can request a pack by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01993 861000.
The Council is also looking at the high street environment to identify pinch points for pedestrians and any practical temporary changes that could be made to make shopping a safe and pleasant experience whilst social distancing remains in place.
In Witney, a town centre plan has been developed which will restrict traffic, impose a 20mph speed limit and widen pavements to aid pedestrians and encourage cyclists. The other main towns in the district are also being examined to see if any changes are required.
Parking enforcement will be in place across the District to help avoid queuing and traffic backlogs.
Cllr Morris added: “We will continue to work with partners to help businesses to access a wide range of support. This has so far included the distribution of cash grants to 1,977 businesses totalling over £24.8m across the district.”
The council will continue to assess how the Government’s release of lockdown will impact on local business over the coming weeks and months and offer advice and guidance to support a safe and successful reopening of the business community.