Free parking, 'sneeze screens', lane closures and signage: Borough's town centres get ready for the restart
Town centres across Stockton-on-Tees are getting ready to welcome back shoppers and visitors when more shops reopen on Monday (June 15).
There'll be free parking across all council car parks and on Yarm High Street, while Council staff will hit the streets to help people understand the changes and public toilets will be open.
The Council has also set up a dedicated helpline that town centre businesses can use to get any support or advice they need.
Here's all you need to know:
The owners of Billingham town centre, St Modwen, report that a lot of the shops have been able to remain open during the pandemic as they sell food and other essentials.
A handful more will open on Monday and social distancing signage will be in place, with the Council on standby to support with additional signage if guidance changes.
Council staff will be visiting retailers in Ingleby Barwick to offer any advice and support they need.
To create more space for pedestrians and cyclists, parking will not be permitted in sections of the service roads on either side of the High Street between Leven Road and the Green and a section near the library will be closed to vehicles.
The Council is also working with Norton Business Group to get signage, posters and stickers in place to support social distancing measures.
As well as the free parking in all Council car parks, there will be free parking at the Castlegate Centre and Wellington Square.
There'll be plenty of free bike parking too as The Hub on Stockton High Street will reopen, with hand sanitiser and bike MOTs also available.
There'll also be signage, posters and stickers in place around the town centre to support social distancing measures.
There's a one-way system around the Castlegate Centre to aid safe movement, queuing and social distancing.
A dedicated town centre cleansing team will carry out increased cleaning of surfaces and touch points and public toilets will be open.
To allow more space on narrow paths, the southbound lane on Stockton High Street will be closed between Bishop Street and Finkle Street for use by pedestrians.
Stockton BID (Business Improvement District) is also providing shops with a number of sneeze screens, hazard tape, posters, floor stickers and hand sanitisers.
A lot of the shops in the privately-owned Thornaby town centre have been able to remain open during the pandemic as they sell food and other essentials.
The Council has been working with the owners to produce 'welcome back' and 'thanks to key workers' signage.
The Council has been working with Yarm Business Forum to produce posters, stickers and signage to welcome shoppers and remind them of social distancing measures.
To create more space for pedestrians, parking will be suspended on the outside parking bays along both sides of Yarm High Street.
Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: "Town centres were going through a hard enough time before the pandemic and although retailers have found some quite ingenious ways to adapt, the one thing they need above all else is our custom.
"We're working hard across all of our town centres to help get them ready for the restart and of course our focus is on ensuring they can welcome shoppers, visitors and workers back in the safest possible way. Town centres will look and feel different but there'll be plenty of signage in place and we'll have staff on hand to help too."
Meanwhile, the Council is working on a series of other changes across the Borough aimed at encouraging walking and cycling.
The changes are designed to ease demand on public transport and help people get to and from town centres.
- the widening of footpaths on Bishopton Road/Bishopton Lane with reduced parking on Bishopton Road
- additional cycle parking at locations around the Borough
- exploring the creation of temporary cycleways on Norton Road, Yarm Lane, and Queen Elizabeth Way
- changes to traffic lights timings to favour pedestrians and cyclists at Billingham town centre, Norton High Street, Stockton High Street, St John's Crossing, Prince Regent Street, Thornaby town centre, and Yarm High Street
- signage at footbridges where social distancing is not possible
Town centre businesses in need of any help and advice can call the Council's dedicated helpline on 01642 528 384.