Sidmouth town centre brings in new measures to encourage sticking to social distancing as lockdown eases

Credit: ITV West Country

A town centre in Devon is bringing in new social distancing measures, which could be seen as a template for others across the West Country to follow.

People in Sidmouth can expect to see queues extend outside of the supermarket, with clear markings at bus stops and pavements to make the public aware that distancing guidelines have not changed.

Residents and visitors to the town described the new markings as ‘welcome reminders’, with some stepping out in Sidmouth for the first time since lockdown was put in place.

Sidmouth Beach is a popular destination for visitors. Credit: ITV West Country

The town council in Sidmouth is also considering preventing traffic in some streets in the middle of the day, in a bid to stop pedestrians from being forced into proximity with one another.

As a coastal town, the seafront and streets are often packed with both locals and tourists during the height of the summer season, a big concern which led to measures.

If you can pedestrianise at certain times of the day then that must help. I suppose that’s one thing about Covid-19, it’s given us the opportunity, and other towns right across Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, to actually look at thinking outside the box. And if it works, who knows, maybe we can look at it at a later date to actually implement it full time.

Stuart Hughes, Sidmouth Town Council
Credit: ITV West Country

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Shop workers in the town say they would openly welcome changes to pedestrianise streets, as current worries about small streets and increased traffic make steady business appear unlikely.

One local business owner told ITV News that they believe, "queueing outside of shops is going to be a big issue, because our pavements are very narrow."

As visitor numbers build, there is increased worry that keeping the regulation two-metre distance will become impossible, particularly around the town’s popular beach.

However, authorities hope the new features will remind people to respect each other's space to prevent a second spike in the number of cases in the virus.