From Monday 12 April, step two of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown will commence with the reopening of non-essential retail, personal care premises and hospitality venues.
Some restrictions remain in place limiting outdoor gatherings to groups of six or from two households.
Somerset West and Taunton Council’s Economic Development team has been working with town councils, Minehead BID, local business groups and Chambers of Commerce to help businesses keep their customers and staff secure.
The new safety measures are being supported by the Somerset district council’s joint Covid-warden team, who will be on hand in town centres and stocked with spare masks and hand sanitiser.
The Covid-wardens have been working specifically with cafes and restaurants to ensure outside dining is safe, and Somerset West and Taunton Council’s Environmental Health team has written to hospitality and personal care premises to provide the latest COVID-safe guidelines.
On visiting the town centres, shoppers can expect to see the familiar social distancing and directional signage introduced last summer.
New additions include lamp post banners, reiterating the Government’s latest ‘Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air’ advice; and the installation of hand sanitiser stations in the town centres of Minehead and Taunton.
With the exception of access for deliveries and emergency vehicles, East Street in Taunton will stay temporarily closed to general traffic to prevent crowding in line with the Government’s Active Travel initiative.
Blue badge holders can gain one-way access from Fore Street between 8am and 10am, with no time limit on when to leave.
Once the initial shopping rush subsides, the council will consider extending this access window. However, additional blue badge parking bays have been provided on Magdalene Street, Billet Street and at The Crescent Car Park.
To help maintain social distancing, levels above 2A of the Orchard Multi-storey car park in Taunton will be closed.
A small number of on-street parking bays have also been closed on Magdalene Street, Taunton and at The Parade, Minehead, and the work previously carried out to widen the pavements in Minehead and Wellington will remain.
All public conveniences in the Taunton and Wellington area have been reassessed and are open for use, barring those at Victoria Park and Bishops Lydeard Railway Station.
Some cubicles have been blocked off and the cleansing teams are carrying out a minimum of twice-daily enhanced cleaning at each site.
Visitors to West Somerset and Exmoor are encouraged to contact the relevant community groups, towns or parish councils to find out the availability of public conveniences in these areas.
To ensure a welcoming return for shoppers, Somerset West and Taunton Council’s Open Spaces team and cleansing contractor will be keeping the streets clean.
In Taunton town centre, the roundabout flower display on The Parade has been replanted, and the planters and hanging baskets on St James Street and at The Market House will be refreshed.
Somerset West and Taunton Council is asking visitors to help keep its high streets clean and attractive by disposing of any litter using the bins provided or by taking it home with them.
Visitors are also encouraged to follow the Government guidance by practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces and washing their hands regularly.
Many of the safety measures have been funded by the council using money from the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, provided by the European Regional Development Fund.