Getting out and about: Town centres and shops

As lockdown restrictions are lifted and people gradually find their feet with the new normal what exactly does this mean for the VI community? Whether it’s accessing public transport or navigating town centres it’s time to admit that, yes things are different but this by no means suggests any changes are insurmountable.

Here we take a look at what to expect when going into town centres and visiting shops;

Many local councils are implementing changes to pavement and road layouts to improve opportunities for social distancing, and because all our towns and cities vary in layout, age and pedestrianisation the adaptions made vary from street to street and town to town.

Possible adaptations are;

  • pavement areas being widened by temporarily blocking off parking bays or one lane of traffic.
  • floor markings denoting spacings and direction of travel to their pedestrian areas
  • signs on lampposts to denote direction of travel and to remind people to maintain 2m social distancing.

Now that restrictions are lifting and more shops are able to open you may be venturing out for the first time since lockdown started, some things to be aware of when visiting shops and businesses are;

  • to maintain social distancing, shops and businesses are limiting the number of people who can go in, this means there are often queues outside whilst people wait. Larger shops will have a member of staff on the door to instruct people and provide assistance such as at supermarkets. Smaller shops and businesses such as banks or post offices will probably not have a person on the door and rely on signage which will instruct how many people can be in the shop at one time.
  • places may have adapted their entrances to distance people entering from those leaving, or there may be previously unused doors used being used to distance people.
  • some shops and businesses will have one-way systems marked by arrows to control the flow of people around the premises.
  • there are now often clear Perspex barriers in place to protect the cashier at the till or counter, this may mean that card machines are in a different place.

As a VI community how can we adapt to this? Keep things simple…

If the new layout is likely to cause problems maybe there is someone in your household or if you’re a lone adult, a support household that you can bubble with who could accompany as necessary for as many trips as required to learn the new geography.

Alternatively, if you have no option but to travel alone be sure to use your preferred mobility aid whether that be a guide dog or a cane. This had the double advantage of protecting you from hazards but also tells Joe Public you have a sight issue that would make social distancing/directional travel difficult.

Lastly, ASK! If you are unsure about a new layout on the roads or in a shop, ask someone to explain what the layout is and they should help, these new changes ca be confusing for all of us and we are all learning new ways of navigating town centres and shops.

Here’s what Chris our Sustainability manager says after a recent visit to Huddersfield Town Centre;

‘Just a quick note about Huddersfield town centre. There are extra barriers up on New Street and Market Street to extend the pavements so people can socially distance. Also, there are arrows on the paving stones along New Street asking people to use it as a one-way system. Obviously Kirklees highways have not considered people with sight loss in their plans. We are highlighting this here to alert you as things may be different when you go into the town centre. Dewsbury or Batley will have made similar changes, so it might be worth checking before you travel.’

This article describes some of the changes put into place in Huddersfield and Dewsbury Town Centre’s.

We will keep you updated as any changes come into place that may affect the VI community.