Nottingham will start to carefully and safely reopen to more people as lockdown restrictions are eased and new arrangements are put in place to make it possible.
The Government announced last month that all non-essential retail would be able to reopen from 15 June if its five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines. Nottingham received £294,601 from a total of £50m being provided nationally from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) that the Government is making available to councils to support businesses to re-open safely.
The City Council is working with the Nottingham Business Improvement District (BID), retailers and other local businesses to ensure the city centre and neighbourhood shopping areas can successfully start to reopen.
A range of measures are being put in place to enable people to move around public places safely and to support retailers with safe trading. This includes a joint campaign with Nottingham BID to provide signage on pavements and outside shops to ask people to maintain social distancing, as well as encouraging people to keep left on pavements and pedestrianised areas. Banners and posters will also welcome people back to the city centre.
Nottingham BID has also provided city centre businesses with reopening packs that contain social distancing floor stickers, cashier desk strut cards, Government guidance posters, face masks and anti-bacterial hand gel. The organisation has also produced a digital map to help support Nottingham’s city centre businesses, highlighting to the public which businesses are open and what services are available.
The staffed public toilets at Greyhound Street will reopen from Monday between 9am and 5pm, with customers asked to enter from Smithy Row and exit onto King Street. All customers will also be expected to use hand sanitiser provided at the entrance. Automatic cleaning toilets at Spondon Street in Sherwood, on Victoria Embankment and at The Forest Park & Ride have remained open throughout lockdown.
City Council crews have been working to remove Big Belly Bins from the city centre to replace them with stainless steel bins which people can deposit litter in without touching them. Remaining Big Belly Bins are being cleansed more frequently, as is street furniture and the rest of the city centre.
The City Centre Management Team has been liaising with businesses to provide advice about where queues should be positioned to best facilitate the socially distanced flow of pedestrians. City Centre CPOs will be available to provide advice and guidance to shoppers and will be monitoring footfall and pedestrian flow throughout the city centre. Further changes could be introduced if any issues emerge and businesses will be given a single point of contact at the council to seek help if needed, around queues, licensing, highways and other issues.
The City Council has also submitted proposals to the Department for Transport on how to use £2.5m of funding to implement temporary measures to help people get into and around the city, especially by bike and on foot. Some ‘quick win’ changes have already been carried out, such as altering green man timings on pedestrian crossings so people don’t have to wait as long after pressing the button and have longer to cross. Other measures the council wants to introduce include ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes on routes where permanent cycle improvements are planned, decluttering and widening pavements especially around main shopping areas, closing some side roads to through traffic and providing regular cycle events, training and free equipment to encourage more people to use bikes to get around. See details of proposals here.
Local transport operators are also running services in a different way to ensure everyone can get around safely and easily. From next Monday, Government guidance is that face coverings must be worn on public transport. Passengers are advised if possible to travel off-peak and use contactless payment, as well as cleaning hands before and after journeys and maintaining a two-metre distance where possible.
Portfolio Holder for Growth and the City Centre, Cllr Sam Webster, said: “We want to thank people for the responsible way they have responded to Government guidance around Covid-19, which has rightly meant that the city has been incredibly quiet for a couple of months.
“Now we are very pleased to welcome people back but of course things aren’t fully back to normal and we all need to bear in mind that the virus is still prevalent and so we need to proceed cautiously and above all safely.
“We have been keen to help local retailers and businesses get back up and running and working with them and the Nottingham BID, we have prepared for this gradual emergence from lockdown. We have introduced measures and associated signage to help maintain social distancing and to give people the reassurance they may need that it is safe to return to Nottingham.”
Stephen Jackson, a director of Nottingham BID added: “We are delighted to be working with Nottingham City Council on this project to help our members to reopen safely and to reassure city centre workers and shoppers that Nottingham is a safe place to visit.”