Plans have been formed to create safer places for businesses to open and people to use in West Suffolk to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help the local economy recover.
They are in response to the government announcement of a phased easing of rules around businesses and retail shops opening this month.
The new measures and guidance are to help businesses make the changes they need to so they can open safely but also reduce pinch points and aid the ability to social distance. Changes are being made to some paths and roads to ensure that people can walk around safely with the space they need as they visit our town centres.
But everyone has to play their part for the measures to work and it is the responsibility of everyone to stick with national guidance on social distancing.
The initial plans have been drawn up by West Suffolk Council, in consultation with local business groups as well as town and parish councils and can be found at www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/saferplaces
The suggested initiatives will evolve over time or will need changing to reflect how effective they are being and how people are following the new measures.
Businesses have a responsibility to make sure they have the correct measures in place on their premises and manage queuing. The online resource has advice for business and links to the national guidance.
West Suffolk Council is also producing a pack for businesses to help with this and will include signage designs businesses can download as well as printed signs. The local Business Improvement Districts are also being proactive in helping local companies and traders.
John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “We all want to see businesses re-open and people able to enjoy more freedoms but this must be done safely to avoid undoing the great work almost everyone has done to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We are leading on this with partners such as local BIDs (Business Improvement Districts), business representatives, town and parish councils, and looking at tailored solutions for individual towns and areas. The measures being suggested follow engagement with local groups, councils and organisations and are part of our wider support of the economic recovery of West Suffolk and our response to COVID-19 to protect our communities.
“But we all have a part to play in this. Safety is the main focus and keeping socially distanced is our first line of defence. It is the responsibility of businesses to make sure they have appropriate measures in place, but we must all do our bit in keeping two metres apart and following guidance to stop the spread of infection. National guidelines will undoubtedly change, and it is anticipated that the measures being taken will evolve to ensure safety and where we need to improve things. This will of course be kept under review. Stick with it and keep us all safe as well as supporting your local businesses.”
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, said: “I have been involved in productive discussions with West Suffolk Council over recent weeks about ensuring we take actions that demonstrate to the public that Bury St Edmunds is a safe place to visit. The BID has contributed to this objective and have paid for and placed around the town information signs and pavement distancing strips. At the same time our businesses have been reopening and planning to reopen from Monday by introducing safety and hygiene measures to ensure that their staff and customers can safely visit their businesses. I am confident that potential customers will feel reassured and will be happy, once again, to support our local businesses.”
Paul Brown, manager of Love Newmarket Business Improvement District, said: “These measures will ensure the safety of our members, their staff and customers while giving confidence to the local community that it is safe to return to our high street. It is really important that everyone plays their part in the reopening and carefully follows the new proposals.”
John Mayhew, spokesperson for Heart of Haverhill, said: “We welcome the opportunity to work closely with West Suffolk Council, as well as Haverhill Town Council, to take an active role in rejuvenating our town centre and helping local businesses get back on their feet. Some businesses will find the next few months extremely tough, but by speaking with one voice everyone stands a better chance of succeeding.
“While we have put our plans to launch a Business Improvement District campaign on hold due to the Covid-19 crisis, we look forward to kick-starting them at the right time as a BID organisation is exactly what Haverhill needs to help create an energy in our town centre. Our message to local people is to please support the town where you live and work.”