Temporary road closures create pedestrian zone in Saffron Walden as coronavirus restrictions ease and shops reopen for socially distanced shopping
PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 June 2020
Copyright © 2020 Celia Bartlett Photography. All rights reserved
Temporary road closures in Saffron Walden have turned some central areas into pedestrian zones to help pedestrians and cyclists effectively social distance as lockdown eases and shops reopen.
Roads affected include Market Street, Market Hill, King Street, Market Row and Cross Street.
Roads normally closed to vehicles on market days are now closed Monday to Saturdays from 7am to 6pm, excluding Sundays.
Speed limits of 20mph speed limits have been introduced to routes around the town centre.
The change came into effect on Monday (June 15) through Essex Highways and will be managed by Saffron Walden Town Council staff.
Town mayor Heather Asker said: “The whole idea is for pedestrian safety during the Covid-19 crisis, where we have got narrow streets and pavements.
“The shops have started to open - I think it will take a little while for shopers to get excited and come out.
“In the meantime we already have had queues outside the popular foodie places. With the narrow streets, narrow pavements, it’s difficult for traffic to pass when people are trying to give each other space. This is why this was pushed through.”
Cllr Asker and Uttlesford District Council chairman Martin Foley welcomed shoppers and businesses back on Monday.
The mayor said: “People were coming up to us and saying it’s lovely to see the Square traffic free. The atmosphere was lovely.”
Louise Scutt-Richter, Saffron Walden BID manager, said: “We are delighted that so many shops are open and the town is buzzing.
“The systems that the shops have put in place to keep customers and staff safe seem to be working really well.”
Xenia Hudson of shoe, bag and umbrella shop Óshe on King Street said Monday had been good and Tuesday seemed even busier as it was also market day. Further shops have been opening this week.
“Monday was a brilliant day. It was so lovely to see everybody coming out.”
Her store asks customers to wear disposable socks to try on shoes, and has gloves and hand sanitiser.
Kam Chauhan of Suitability Dry Cleaning in Central Arcade said customers were being respectful of social distancing, and coming in for duvet cleaning.
“We have signs up to say one person in at any one time. We have markings outside the shop to queue sensibly.”
The Tourist Information Centre has also reopened for a maximum of two people at a time, for a maximum of 10 minutes. Visitors are asked to browse ‘with their eyes’.
A spokesperson for Essex Highways said: “We have been working closely with the district and town councils, as well as the Business Improvement District (BID) to introduce measures in Saffron Walden to support residents with social distancing, in line with Public Health guidance around Covid-19. If this guidance changes, the measures will be reviewed and adjusted as needed.”
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