RCT Council Update on Social Distancing Measures
Written by Gavin on 2nd July 2020
RCT Council Cabinet Members have received an update on the changes made to help residents maintain social distancing within popular public spaces – including markings and signage within Town Centres and parks.
At their meeting on Thursday, June 25, via video conferencing, Cabinet considered an Officer report summarising the recent action taken in advance of non-essential shops re-opening, particularly in our Town Centres – following the latest announcement by the First Minister of Wales, non-essential retail shops were permitted to re-open with social distancing in place from June 22.
It followed Welsh Government’s previous three-week review on May 29, when businesses were told they may begin preparations to reopen – and the Council responded proactively by making several changes to public spaces. These were in accordance with UK Government guidance on ‘Safer Public Places’ to enable increased visitors while maintaining social distancing.
The measures introduced by the Council are designed to enable social distancing, and this has been achieved through a general ‘signs and lines’ approach which clearly reinforces the 2 metre message. The operation and effectiveness of these measures are under constant review.
Town Centres examples:
· Large banners at the entrance to the main Town Centres.
· Posters placed in all available shop windows.
· Posters attached to litter bins and bus shelters.
· Signs applied to the pavement to mark out safe queuing distances.
· Lines and arrows applied to the footway to set out ‘walking lanes’ where appropriate and where the street or footway width allows.
· Instructions on street furniture to prevent gatherings and stop people sitting in close proximity (e.g. benches used by one person at a time).
· Removal of some benches – but ensuring there are alternative places for people to sit nearby.
· Signage at bus stations, with proposals being developed to increase the capacity of waiting areas at a number of bus stop locations.
· All children’s play areas and equipment fenced off.
· 2m awareness posters at Ynysangharad Park War Memorial and other large spaces like Aberdare Park and Dare Valley Country Park.
· Posters displayed at the entrances to all other parks.
· Bandstand area at Ynysangharad Park cordoned off to prevent gatherings, along with some picnic tables throughout the park.
The Council has also bid for more than £2m Welsh Government funding to help people achieve social distancing in local communities – particularly around re-assigning road space to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.
The funding would help introduce a number of measures – including 20mph limits across Town Centres and outside 20 schools. It would also help pilot the temporary closure of roads at six schools to reduce congestion and increase social distancing, along with introducing real-time passenger information at two busy bus stations and the enhancement of a range of cycle routes.
Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Housing, said: “At Thursday’s meeting, Cabinet considered the Officer report outlining the action taken in our Town Centres and parks to help visitors with social distancing. These have included clear signage and markers in our retail areas, placed in advance of the First Minister’s announcement that non-essential shops could re-open on June 22.
“At the beginning of the lockdown period in March, there was a significant drop in the number of people visiting our main Town Centres, which has been gradually rising in recent weeks. The Council has been supporting Town Centre businesses throughout the pandemic, through the distribution of Government grants and dedicated business support – while our Stay Well at Work team has helped numerous small businesses at this difficult time.
“The physical changes that people will have undoubtedly noticed range from banners, posters and signage promoting 2m social distancing, to waiting spots, walking lanes and the removal of some benches to prevent gatherings. Each of our Town Centres are different, presenting their own individual issues in terms of social distancing – with a specific approach taken within each town considering factors such as size, layout, traffic, parking and footfall.
“There continues to be important dialogue with the Council’s main Town Centre contacts – including the BIDs and Chambers of Trade – in relation to these changes, while all Town Centre business continue to receive updates.
“At Thursday’s meeting, Cabinet agreed that Officers continue to monitor our Town Centres and public spaces, ensuring they are suitably safe as there is a gradual increase in visitors. Members will be consulted about any further measures being introduced as the situation further changes and evolves.”