Council given £88,000 to re-open socially distanced high streets and tourist hotspots

The Market Place in Great Yarmouth. PHOTO: Antony Kelly

The Market Place in Great Yarmouth. PHOTO: Antony Kelly - Credit: Archant

Plans to “Covid-proof” seaside high streets are under way as the reopening of non-essential retailers begins from June 15.

Gorleston High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Gorleston High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Over the weekend, Great Yarmouth Borough Council was given £88,000 as part of a £50m Government package to be shared between local authorities for the purpose of safely “kickstarting” high street trade.

In a statement, a spokesman for the council said: “We are currently liaising with Norfolk County Council, as highways authority, to work through a range of plans for Great Yarmouth town centre, Gorleston High Street and the busiest tourist locations.

“Once the plans are finalised, traders and the wider public will be informed as a top priority. Their cooperation will be critical in supporting social distancing.”

With regards to Yarmouth outdoor market, eligible for a full re-opening as early as June 1, the spokesman said: “We have already put markers on the floor and signage up to encourage social distancing, together with the provision of hand sanitiser for customers.

Gorleston High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Gorleston High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

“A number of traders are already able to serve customers, as they sell groceries or takeaway food, and these traders are embracing social distancing.”

He added: “To assist local businesses to risk assess their own operations and put in place sensible measures at their own premises, the council has compiled on its website a good practice guide to offer free and impartial advice and support, along with links to sector-specific guidance on operating safely.”

Kevin Huggins, chair of the Gorleston Traders Association, says he has been gauging which options would best achieve the 2m social distancing requirement on Gorleston high street in particular - pedestrianising the whole street or adopting a one-way, no-parking system for cars.

He has invited traders to contact him with their view before the GTA meets with council leaders next Wednesday.

Kevin Huggins from Fusion Hair Consultants, Gorleston, is asking residents to give their views on wh

Kevin Huggins from Fusion Hair Consultants, Gorleston, is asking residents to give their views on what a "socially distanced" Gorleston high street would look like. Photo: Nick Butcher - Credit: Archant © 2012

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Mr Huggins, who also owns high street salon Hair Fusion, said he had so far received “hundreds of emails” after posting the potential plans on multiple Facebook channels.

He said: “I strongly believe we need to get the high street up and running again.

“But of course the problem is that common sense is not that common, and there needs to be strict measures in place so that people feel able to shop without fear of spreading the virus.

“Everyone has to help out here. I know the high street will revitalise itself, and this is hopefully a two to three month temporary measure at most.”