Towns' social distancing measures will be reviewed for end of lockdown

Social distancing measures in Shropshire's towns will be reintroduced or amended after the second lockdown, Shropshire Council has said.

Measures to help social distancing, such as closing roads to cars to allow for more room for pedestrians, were implemented in some of the county's market towns earlier in the year.

Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways and transport, said that measures will be reinstalled and reviewed following the end of the current lockdown.

"We've carefully considered which of the social distancing measures will be required in the coming weeks, and which should be removed for the period of the lockdown – along with any other related actions that needs to be taken," Mr Davenport said.

"I’m happy that what we’ve agreed is sensible and proportionate, and we’ll continue to review things in the weeks ahead."

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Social distancing measures were removed from King Street in Ludlow as the country entered a second lockdown. The road in Ludlow's town centre was closed to cars on Fridays and Saturdays to allow more room for pedestrians, enabling them to better socially distance.

The street is home to many of the town's shops and Shropshire councillor for Ludlow North, Andy Boddington, said this meant people had more room to stop and browse while still keeping their distance from one another.

"These measures are very important for social distancing and it also creates a better shopping environment on King Street," he said.

"The pavements are 19cm wide during an area called The Narrows, and that's not wide enough to take a pram or a wheelchair through at the best of times, and it's not wide enough for social distancing.

"Infection rates are growing here in Ludlow, mostly in education settings, but still growing. When it's busy I think we should maintain the closure - especially in the summer period."

Mr Boddington said he hopes the measures can be reviewed year round, especially during the busy summer months, to make the town a more attractive shopping environment.

"This year has been tough," he said. "We started with a flood, and we hadn't even recovered when Covid hit. So we need to make the town centre as attractive as possible, encourage people to come out their houses, get fresh air and shop locally. I think the measures should be discussed further than just the Christmas period."

Other market towns like Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury also had social distancing measures in place.

Shrewsbury's Wyle Cop, one of the main roads into the centre, has become a one-way system for cars. Vehicles entering the town have to now go around the town walls on weekends, while Bridgnorth's High Street was closed in the summer to allow for more space on market day.

Mr Davenport said: "When the lockdown is confirmed as ending, the social distancing measures will be reintroduced or amended based upon the available data and national guidance, and taking into account the pre-Christmas period, and with the needs of our businesses and towns very much in mind."

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