Shoppers flock back to Bromley as high streets reopen

By Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter

Hundreds of residents have flocked to Bromley’s town centres and high streets as coronavirus lockdown rules, which had kept non-essential businesses closed, were relaxed across the nation on Monday.

One video taken on Monday morning shows a line of shoppers stretching for more than 100 metres from Bromley High Street’s Primark, as hundreds flock to the budget fashion retailer.

Those taking to the borough’s busiest parts were met with a variety of new measures implemented by Bromley council to help shoppers keep their distance from one another.

It comes as the council encouraged residents to support their local high streets, singling out local businesses as a target for support from visitors.

The reopening of many businesses comes after Bromley’s Charter Market re-opened with social distancing measures in place last week.

The local authority has implemented a number of actions to aid social distancing elsewhere, including ‘keep your distance’ signs in town centres, to support the local recovery from the enforced shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other measures to help with social distancing include marking out spacing to enable people to shop or travel, with extra space for queuing at shops, stations and bus stops, and for those passing these queues on foot.

The borough said it would also help schools with distancing on the streets in their vicinity, as well as announcing plans to temporarily link new paths to permanent cycle networks.

The initial work is being funded using the £295k Government grant given to local authorities to help town centres safely return to trading.

Councillor William Huntington-Thresher, the authority’s portfolio holder for environment and community services, said the council had liaised with business improvement districts and urged customers to have patience with new social distancing measures.

He said: “The need for social distancing is widely understood and supported, but in places where lots of people will pass through, in busy High Street areas for example, then we are installing signage to remind pedestrians of the importance of this message.”

Further changes are expected to come after a meeting last week saw councillors endorse plans to lobby Transport for London for funding to implement more than 100 projects to encourage more walking and cycling in the borough.

Cllr Huntington-Thresher said: We have also been looking at practical, physical measures which we might install, such as some widened footways.

“Whilst the installation of signage is coming forwards relatively quickly, the engineering schemes will take longer to install.”

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