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Gloucestershire Business News

Council asks for your views on Forest of Dean town centre changes

The Government's lifting of lockdown restrictions to enable non essential shops to reopen was based on a set of guidelines aimed at making pedestrian use of High Streets as safe as possible.

In recent weeks the Forest of Dean District Council has made a series of temporary changes to town centres in consultation with town councils. These changes follow those government guidelines on opening business while preserving social distancing.

The council say that the challenge is that they don't just want businesses to reopen, they want them to stay open. They say that the district cannot afford a second lockdown.

Changes introduced include visible signage around the businesses to advise shoppers where to pause outside individual shops, and where restrictions may be enforced, such as limiting the number of people who can enter premises at the same time. Hand sanitiser stations are also being provided as well as other safety measures.

A statement released by the council added that "the Forest has been fortunate in that cases of COVID-19 have been limited here.

"Largely because people have strictly supported advice in lockdown. The loosening of lockdown has different challenges but the need for vigilance in protecting our own health and the health of the forest community remains.

"The COVID-19 pandemic remains a very real threat to the Forest of Dean."

It is hoped that the temporary changes put in place quickly will support businesses reopening and over the next few weeks the council will discover which work well and which need more work.

They are encouraging residents and traders to give their view on what does and doesn't work and to make other suggestions on what would make them feel safe while using the Forest's town centres.

Cllr Di Martin, cabinet member for town centres said: "Whilst encouraging people to use our local shops and facilities, the safety of our residents and visitors is paramount. COVID-19 has not gone away and we are very concerned that a further lockdown of our residents would be more damaging to our local businesses than these temporary measures."

Cllr Paul Hiett, cabinet member for community said: "Consultation on the measures that have been introduced has taken place with Town Councils. Again I would emphasise the most important aspect is to keep residents as safe as possible and allow them to socially distance as they shop."

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