CHESHIRE East Council is set to introduce a range of measures to protect shoppers and staff when businesses reopen later this month.

This comes after the Government announced that ‘non-essential’ shops selling products such as clothes, shoes, toys, furniture books and electronics can reopen from June 15.

The council says that temporary measures will be in place by this date and that they will be under constant review, with changes possible to meet local circumstances.

Measures are set to include awareness signs being erected at bus stops and train stations and pavement markings being created to raise social distancing awareness.

Temporary road closures in town centres should also be expected to control high footfall levels and to create extra space needed for pedestrians, particularly while queuing at shops.

Increased pedestrian or cycle access in some town centres will be created, with temporary closures of some town centre car parks being considered where social distancing is difficult.

The council says that while it cannot guarantee that the public adheres to guidance on social distancing, it is keen to help both residents and business communities come out of lockdown safely, ensuring that public health is protected.

Cllr Laura Crane, cabinet member for highways, said: “As we begin to move beyond lockdown, we must consider how best to open up our high streets.

“Our priority here is to protect people and our local businesses.

“Alongside any measures, we will be supporting businesses with additional information and guidance, while encouraging high street users to adhere to the Government’s social distancing restrictions.

“The Government is providing funding to local authorities and has issued guidance on how we can help people maintain safe social distancing in busy public areas, which we are following.

“Some of our measures support walking and cycling in our town centres, which many people have enjoyed much more of during the lockdown, and this also is good for our environment and people’s health and wellbeing.

“Further temporary and experimental measures are being considered to support walking and cycling and will be implemented once we have put in the arrangements for our high streets.

“Each of the 16 high streets identified in Cheshire East has been considered individually and measures tailored to local circumstances.

“Local ward members and town and parish councils have been asked for input into the plans and, where this has been received, we have taken close account of these suggestions.

“While these temporary arrangements may disrupt the travel patterns of some residents and visitors, they are necessary to protect everyone, especially those who will be using the shops when the Government allows them to open from June 15.

“We are being careful to implement the Government’s measures alongside avoiding unnecessary disruption.

“The works completed by June 15 are an important first step and these measures will be closely monitored and adjusted as necessary.”

Essential access for servicing businesses and residential properties will be maintained throughout the closures.

The council will continue to work on additional measures to support active travel during the recovery stages after lockdown.

In the next stage, it will seek to deliver measures outside of town centres, and to improve the network for pedestrians and cyclists.