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Reopening our High Streets Safely

10 June 2020 : Council news

SWT is working with shop-keepers, traders and business groups to prepare for the re-opening of High Streets and retail centres, following the Government announcement that non-essential shops can open from Monday, June 15.

Officers from SWT’s Economic Development team, have been working to help shop owners re-start their businesses safely and ensure that customers can visit shops with confidence.

The plans have been put in place in conjunction with town councils, Minehead BID, local business groups, and Chambers of Commerce across the district, engaging with business communities in the main centres of Taunton, Wellington and Minehead, and at Dunster, Porlock, Wiveliscombe, Williton and Watchet.

SWT is following Government guidance and using money from the European Regional Development Fund for Reopening High Streets Safely to implement a range of measures to keep shoppers and staff safe.

This includes signage, messaging on posters, banners and social media reminding people about the importance of social distancing and hand washing. There will also be regular deep cleaning regimes.

The Council has been in discussion with Somerset County Council about changes to travel to allow for social distancing on pavements and outside shops using emergency funding from the Government’s Active Travel Fund.

The five Local Authorities in Somerset have been working with the police and other partners to identify a list of areas to enable social distancing around busier narrow pavements, and encourage walking and cycling in line with the funding requirements – these include the temporary closure of East Street, Taunton during the daytime, and the removal of on- street parking at the parade in Minehead.

Further work around Active Travel will come into effect later after the initial changes have been implemented and their impact monitored.

Somerset West and Taunton owned car parks will stay free for the foreseeable future to support the re-opening of High Streets to help rejuvenate the local economy.

Discussions are taking place to allow for the safe reopening of the Orchard Centre car park in Taunton which currently remains closed.

Cllr Marcus Kravis, Executive Member for Economic Development, said: “We have been working collaboratively to do everything we can to support our businesses and traders as they take these steps towards re-opening our high streets and retail centres.

“I would like to thank all those who have worked with us and share our commitment to reopening our shops and supporting our traders.

“It really is a case of doing everything we can to ensure that appropriate safety measures and guidance are in place so business can begin trading again and customers can shop with confidence.

“This will be an evolving situation as restrictions change, and we will continue working with our partners to tailor our response to any needs identified as we move forwards towards economic recovery.

“We hope this will give our communities some peace of mind but would stress that individuals should follow Government guidance and take personal precautions regarding social distancing and hygiene”

Information and advice for businesses is freely available from the Council. You can contact the economic development team for help or advice at