Social distancing in the town centre
A package of new measures has been introduced to help visitors access and navigate the town centre easily and safely, whilst respecting social distancing – download a pdf map showing these here. These include:
- A number of pedestrian one-way systems, including on Union Street, Oxford Road by Broad Street Mall, Station Road and the station subway
- Barriers to direct pedestrians at pinch points, especially busy bus stops
- Painted lines in public areas to help shoppers with maintaining social distancing
Relevant signage will be in place across the town centre, reminding people of social distancing restrictions and asking them to remain vigilant and respectful of all shop staff and other visitors to the town centre.
Reopening High Streets Safely Fund
The Council has received funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund supports the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas which has allowed us, together with Reading BID, to put in place these additional measures throughout Reading town centre to establish a safe trading environment for businesses and customers.
Hygiene in the town centre
Key points relating to hygiene are:
- Be proactive and look after yourself by bringing your own hand sanitiser with you. This is to complement those being provided by a number of businesses at the entrance to their shops.
- A disinfectant clean will take place in June of over 39,000 square feet of public space. There will also be cleaning teams out every day to ensure the town centre remains as clean and hygienic as possible.
- Hand washing facilities will be available across Reading’s public toilets, which will be open in St Martin’s Precinct, Caversham Court, Meadway Precinct (disabled toilet only), Cemetery Junction and Albert Road, Town Hall Uri lift which will now be left open in the daytime as well as through the evening / night with toilet facilities also available in some shops and in the Oracle shopping centre.
Help at hand
For visitors who need assistance whilst visiting Reading in these unprecedented times, help is at hand.
- Two Reading BID (Business Improvement District) wardens will be on duty during business hours
- Three or more pastors will be in attendance between 10am and 2pm on weekdays
- Thames Valley Police will have a presence around the town centre as part of a co-ordinated team approach between Reading Borough Council, Reading UK and Thames Valley Police to assist the public.
All three groups will be on the move, offering a welcome, reassurance and advice to help facilitate a safe visit.
Travelling around Reading
The main advice relating to travelling in to Reading town centre is:
- Government advice is to avoid using public transport where possible due to social distancing guidelines
- Reading Borough Council is particularly encouraging people to walk or cycle when travelling around town, to help maintain the positive environmental impact that has been observed recently due to reduced emissions from a decline in car journeys.
- A number of changes are being made to help pedestrians and cyclist get around town safely. These include making some roads one-way to increase space available for walking, and creating more cycle lanes. One part of the work, creating a cycle lane over Reading Bridge, will begin on Wednesday and be finalised on Friday so it is complete in time for the reopening of the town centre. Details of where and when the changes will go live can be found here: http://news.reading.gov.uk/more-space-for-walking-cycling/
- Bus services have increased since 1st June for those without alternative travel means, but with reduced capacity on each bus to observe social distancing. Passengers are advised to use contactless payment.
- Train services are increasing to Saturday levels.
- It has been announced by the Government that wearing face coverings will be compulsory on public transport from 15th June.
New town centre red route
The town centre section of Reading’s first ever red route will also go live from Monday 15th June. Red route restrictions will run along the far east section of the Oxford Road, before its junction with Broad Street, south along St Mary’s Butts and on to Castle Street, Gun Street and Minster Street, north along West Street and then east along Friar Street. The route also includes Market Place and King Street and Kings Road, where it will link with the eastern section of the route.
A red route is a ‘no stopping’ restriction successfully used on major bus routes in London for many years, helping to keep key public transport moving. Importantly, it also improves safety for pedestrians and cyclists by preventing dangerous or illegal parking, particularly important at a time when social distancing remains in place.
- The Council has continued to manage the operation of Hosier Street Market since the news in August 2019 that operators Town and Country Markets had gone into administration. At the time the Council said it was is in the process of reviewing options for the future operation of the market and identifying a new operator. The Council is now working with existing stall holders to reopen the market and recommence trading within the issued Government guidelines on social distancing. This arrangement will continue until a new market operator is ready to take on the management of the existing market, anticipated to be later this year.
- Plans are also being developed to reopen the food markets in Market Square on Wednesdays and Fridays from 17th June as well.
The Council and its partners have been working hard to support and protect people rough sleeping in Reading since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. Our priority is to make sure anyone rough sleeping is kept safe and that their health and wellbeing needs are met.
Members of the public and community who see someone bedded down and sleeping rough should refer them into Reading’s Street Outreach Service via www.streetlink.org.uk.
The Council’s Homelessness Prevention teams are working closely with as many partners as possible to ensure everyone at risk of rough sleeping in Reading has an accommodation offer open to them in order that they can socially distance effectively and self-isolate if they need to. We have continued to make frequent and continued offers to those refusing, so that people know accommodation is available to them at this time. In order to ensure that individuals can effectively isolate the Council is also providing food parcels and telephone support to all those utilising the accommodation offer. We want to reassure those who are vulnerable and our residents that there is an ongoing accommodation and support offer for anyone on the streets during the outbreak.