Visitors will be able to shop safely in Andover thanks to the introduction of a variety of new measures to protect people from the spread of coronavirus, as high streets up and down the country prepare to reopen on 15 June.
Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) has been working with Andover Business Improvement District (BID) and Hampshire County Council to install new ‘keep left’ signage along the lanes to and from the car parks, introduce new social distancing and hygiene signage, and change the layout of the market on a Thursday and Saturday to ensure shoppers can stay far enough apart.
In the Chantry Centre they have installed hand sanitiser dispensers, introduced one-way systems and have closed benches and children’s rides to help prevent the virus from spreading through contact with hard surfaces.
The government announced the closure of all shops selling non-essential items back in March. But with the restrictions starting to ease, many local shops are expected to reopen to customers next week.
And in a bid to encourage people to return to the town centre, TVBC has confirmed that it will be free to park for up to two hours in all of its car parks until 22 July.
Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, said: “We’ve been working flat out to get a range of new safety measures in place to help protect the public from the spread of coronavirus. And businesses have done a fantastic job of installing safety measures in their own premises. If people don’t feel safe, then they won’t come into town, so it’s vital that we do all we can to ensure effective social distancing but it’s also important that we don’t make things unnecessarily difficult for people, so there is a balance to be struck.
If things don’t work then we can change them, so I would urge residents and businesses to let us know if there is anything else they want us to do, or anything they want us to do differently.”
BID manager, Steve Godwin, said: “We are delighted to be working closely with TVBC in ensuring that our town centre is safely prepared for its reopening. We have had the opportunity to consult with local businesses over the best way that this should be carried out and being able to work in close partnership with TVBC and HCC has ensured that the views of businesses have been heard.
We know that people are concerned about safety and with our predominantly pedestrianised areas, it has been possible to implement a plan which will keep people safe whilst allowing them to start visiting our town centre again. Free car parking for two hours in all town centre car parks until July 22 will also be an encouragement for people to return whilst supporting traders and promoting Andover with its excellent access, as a convenient and competitive town to visit compared to many other towns and cities.”
Councillor Rob Humby, deputy leader of Hampshire County Council and executive member for economy, transport and environment, added: “We are implementing a number of temporary measures to help people travel back into our towns safely and create better spaces for people walking and cycling. The measures are designed to help maintain social distancing and make public areas safer during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the recovery period.
“The coronavirus pandemic has altered our views on how we live and how we travel. With more people cycling and walking, this is a critical time for us to decide how we want to move about in the future and seize the opportunities we have to shape a clean, healthy and sustainable transport future for Hampshire.”