The council has started planning for when Doncaster town centre and other town centres across the borough can fully reopen for visitors, but the message remains please only visit if it’s absolutely essential to do so.
With the Government now starting to relax restrictions on places people can go and further guidance expected in the coming weeks and months on what outlets can reopen, the council is to introduce new ways of using the town centre.
Doncaster town centre is not fully open yet but with the markets and some essential shops open for food supplies and other shops possibly opening once lockdown eases, more people may need to come into the town centre to pick up important key items.
As part of the plans, the council is urging anyone who does need to go into town to observe safe distancing guidelines at all times. This is for their safety and the safety of others. The latest rule is still to stay at least two metres apart from other people.
Signage will be going up around the town centre to reinforce this public safety message.
Town Centre ambassadors will be available in Doncaster town centre to help and advise people, while police officers will look to ensure people are observing the safe distancing rules and not gathering in groups.
To help people social distance and reduce the potential of crowded public areas, the council is also introducing a ‘keep left’ pedestrian flow arrangement on busy town streets.
People will be asked to walk on the left hand side of streets like St Sepulchre Gate, the High Street and around the Frenchgate Centre. This will help them move around safely. A number of crossing points will allow people to get to the other side of the streets for their essential needs.
This change will be introduced shortly and will be similar to what supermarkets and other organisations have implemented to create safer routes for people needing to do their key business.
Additional core parts of the town centre will be pedestrianised between 10.30am to 4.00pm. This will see traffic restrictions in place at Sunny Bar and Wood Street. Pedestrian friendly areas will help people walk to where they need to safely and make it easier to observe social distancing rules. These changes should be in place week commencing 18th May.
Delivery vehicles will have access before and after these times and emergency vehicles at all times.
Some car parks may need to be accessed via different routes once the town centre is pedestrianised.
The council has increased cleansing at its car parks but users are encouraged to make card payments if they can and observe social distancing when parking up and paying.
We understand people will need to think carefully about how they travel to town with the risks associated with public transport so we are recommending people travel by car, walk or cycle.
As part of a bid to encourage active travel we are currently looking at opportunities for pop up cycle lanes that could be deployed quickly but safely. This would be complementary to the three cycle lanes that have recently been completed during the lockdown at Thorne Moorends, Auckley and Bennetthorpe. The future will see a significant expansion of active travel infrastructure through the £35m successful Transforming Cites Fund Programme, which is heavily populated with active travel schemes across the borough over the next three years.
As the latest government advice is not to open toilet facilities, people may not be able to clean and wash their hands regularly when in the town centre. People will need to be aware of this and if they have to come in, they are asked to bring tissues and hand sanitisers with them. Face coverings are also being recommended if people anticipate going into an enclosed public space.
The council’s Business Doncaster team is working closely with businesses and town centre partners to ensure they are fully aware of the latest government guidance and any changes that the council are looking to introduce.
The council’s enforcement and trading standards teams are also working closely with businesses during the COVID-19 emergency by providing them with help, guidance and support and ensuring they are complying with latest Government rules.
The council’s Street Scene team will be carrying out regular town centre cleanses.
Cllr Bill Mordue, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Economic Development, said: “We are pulling out all the stops to prepare the town centre so people who have to visit for their essential needs can do so, observing social distancing rules and the latest public safety messages at all times.
“The Government has indicated that it will be easing the lockdown in the coming weeks and months and we want Doncaster to be ready for when the lockdown is lifted.
“Our teams are working incredibly hard to make the necessary changes and liaising closely with businesses and partners to make sure that when we can start encouraging people back into the town centre, we are ready and open for business.
“The town centre will need to look different and be used differently but these changes will be important to help keep people safe during this COVID-19 emergency.
“We do need to remind people that most of the town centre is still not open yet and they should only visit Doncaster town centre and our other town centres across our borough if it’s absolutely essential to do so. We do ask people to go to other, more suitable public spaces for their exercise.
“We want people to think carefully about themselves, their family and the people they love and others in our communities. Please acting responsibly for your safety and the safety of others during these very difficult times.”
More information about the changes will be on www.doncaster.gov.uk/coronavirus
Business Doncaster’s website: www.wearedoncaster.co.uk has key information for town centre businesses and other businesses across the borough.
This information will be regularly updated with the latest advice and guidance over the coming weeks.
The council will continue to monitor the town centre, the behaviour of visitors, its businesses and government guidance, making necessary amendments to the town centre when and where it is needed.
The council will be considering rolling out some similar changes to other town centres across the borough in the coming weeks.