Plans have been formed to create safer places for businesses to open and people to use in West Suffolk to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help the local economy recover.

They are in response to the government announcement of a phased easing of rules around businesses and retail shops opening this month.

The new measures and guidance are to help businesses make the changes they need to so they can open safely but also reduce pinch points and aid the ability to social distance. Changes are being made to some paths and roads to ensure that people can walk around safely with the space they need as they visit our town centres.

But everyone has to play their part for the measures to work and it is the responsibility of everyone to stick with national guidance on social distancing.

The initial plans have been drawn up by West Suffolk Council, in consultation with local business groups as well as town and parish councils and can be found at www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/saferplaces.

The suggested initiatives will evolve over time or will need changing to reflect how effective they are being and how people are following the new measures.

Businesses have a responsibility to make sure they have the correct measures in place on their premises and manage queuing. The online resource has advice for business and links to the national guidance.

West Suffolk Council is also producing a pack for businesses to help with this and will include signage designs businesses can download as well as printed signs.

John Mayhew, spokesperson for Heart of Haverhill, said: “We welcome the opportunity to work closely with West Suffolk Council, as well as Haverhill Town Council, to take an active role in rejuvenating our town centre and helping local businesses get back on their feet. Some businesses will find the next few months extremely tough, but by speaking with one voice everyone stands a better chance of succeeding.

“While we have put our plans to launch a Business Improvement District campaign on hold due to the Covid-19 crisis, we look forward to kick-starting them at the right time as a BID organisation is exactly what Haverhill needs to help create an energy in our town centre. Our message to local people is to please support the town where you live and work.”

John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “We all want to see businesses re-open and people able to enjoy more freedoms but this must be done safely to avoid undoing the great work almost everyone has done to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“But we all have a part to play in this. Safety is the main focus and keeping socially distanced is our first line of defence. It is the responsibility of businesses to make sure they have appropriate measures in place, but we must all do our bit in keeping two metres apart and following guidance to stop the spread of infection.

“National guidelines will undoubtedly change, and it is anticipated that the measures being taken will evolve to ensure safety and where we need to improve things. This will of course be kept under review. Stick with it and keep us all safe as well as supporting your local businesses.”

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