A series of schemes to help town centre shoppers maintain social distancing have been announced.

One-way walking systems are being introduced in the town centre, ahead of the re-opening of the high street next week.

And Reading Borough Council (RBC) is asking shoppers in Reading to bring hand sanitiser with them when non-essential shops re-open, on June 15.

Council leader Jason Brock said: “I am sure that there will be a sense of relief that residents can once again visit and shop in the town centre, but it is essential everybody pays close attention to the guidance being given, which is there to help keep residents and shop staff safe.”

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“It is important people take some time to familiarise themselves with the changes, plan their journeys into town and think about their journeys across the town centre.

“We would ask everybody to be respectful of other people and the social distancing guidelines which remain in place.

“These are the first few steps to some sort of normality, but we need everybody to keep safe and respect the limitations at this time.”

1. One-way walking systems

Locations for the one-way walking systems include Union Street, Oxford Road by Broad Street Mall, Station Road and the station subway.

There will also be barriers introduced in congested places such as busy bus stops to direct pedestrians and painted lines in public areas to help shoppers with maintaining social distancing.

2. Hygiene

The council will implement a disinfectant clean 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.

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Visitors to the town centre are being asked bring their own hand sanitiser, while businesses will also provide sanitiser at their shop entrances.

Hand washing facilities will be available across Reading’s public toilets, around half of which are currently open.

The public toilets currently open are:

  • St Martin’s Precinct
  • Caversham Court
  • Meadway Precinct (disabled toilet only)
  • Cemetery Junction
  • Albert Road
  • Town Hall Urilift (will now be open in the daytime as well as through the night)

Toilets are also available in some shops and in the Oracle shopping centre.

3. Help at Hand

Assistance be available for those who need help while visiting Reading in these unprecedented times, with support being offered by:

  • Two Reading BID (Business Improvement District) wardens will be on duty during business hours
  • Three or more pastors in attendance between 10am and 2pm on weekdays
  • Thames Valley Police will have a presence around the town centre

4. Re-opening markets

The council is working with Hosier Street Market stall holders to reopen the market and restart trading.

Plans are also being developed to reopen the food markets in Market Square next week.

5. Stopping restrictions for cars

Meanwhile, Reading’s red route will be extended to the town centre from next week.

The council says it will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists by preventing dangerous or illegal parking, particularly important at a time when social distancing remains in place.