How do you solve the social distancing dilemma post lockdown?
With England in Covid-19 lockdown and Wales emerging from one, the problem facing local authorities, employers and property management companies is how to encourage greater social distancing in streets, communal areas and other places where people congregate.
There is a need to plan and implement permanent solutions after the second lockdown to prevent another escalation in Covid-19 cases, according to Robert Hawgood, Managing Director of Landmark Street Furniture.
He said the emphasis is currently being placed on creating more permanent controls to create one-way systems, deter lingering and help maintain two metres distancing between shoppers, workers and others.
Temporary social distancing solutions are not effective
“We came out of the first lockdown with a lot of temporary systems in place to create more space on our high streets for shoppers. These involved cones and temporary signage. In many cases these have been vandalised or they simply get moved because of their temporary nature,” said Mr Hawgood.
The government’s Covid-19 guidelines for ‘safer public places – urban centres and green spaces’ is already a key part of the management of public areas, while the Health and Safety Executive has set out its criteria for employers.
“Each scenario is different. For example, you need to identify the user groups in a particular area – is it a high street for shoppers, a transport hub for commuters, an area of employment for workers or a commercial centre.
The high street of 2021 will look very different
“Each situation needs a slightly different approach in the way you can assess the social distancing solutions required, from the issues to the potential conflicts and risks, as set out in the government’s guidance.”
Last month Landmark Street Furniture set out how a typical high street could look in 2021.
It demonstrates how planters, seating, screening and secure bicycle storage will become a key component in making shopping safer, as well as avenues to employment and transportation sites.
Statutory requirements will require permanent social distancing solutions
“We’re entering a period where there will be more statutory requirements placed on councils, employers and property companies to ensure more permanent methods for creating social distancing are in place.
“It’s far better to plan for a “permanent” solution for a number of reasons. The first is safety. We need people to be going about their business safely for shopping and work. The second is cost. Temporary solutions can cost more money in the long run and are also not as manageable as a permanent solution,” said Mr Hawgood.
Drake Circus is a good example of how a mix of street furniture has created a safe environment for shoppers within a retail space. Seats, cycle stands, bollards and waste recycling units were all used in project.
Each element of street furniture plays an important part in social distancing:
o Aesthetically pleasing, available in stone, wood and metal, planters can be positioned to introduce routes through an area by creating barriers. Used in conjunction with seating and screens, they are physical interventions that can guide pedestrians and vehicles.
o One of the most widely used forms of a barrier or for access control, they come in a range of forms that can address movement and direction.
o Where all-weather movement is needed, these can be implemented in areas to help guide movement. Used in conjunction with floor studs, the direction and distancing of pedestrians can be easily demonstrated.
o Seating will always be required in high streets and public places. The size and positioning can help create a rest point for people as well as acting as a physical intervention within an open area.
o Door guards, flow plates, barriers, and speed reduction ramps can all help control the movement of people, cyclists and vehicles.
“These are just a few physical methods that can be introduced to make safer public areas and urban spaces,” said Mr Hawgood.
“What is crucial is that they are planned as part of a wider scheme. We work with local authorities, architects and property developers to design and implement such schemes. This ensures there is a planned approach that is thought out and relevant to the environment being considered.”
Landmark Street Furniture is one of the leading suppliers and installers of secure bike storage systems and street furniture in the UK, working with multi-national blue-chip companies through to small and medium-sized businesses, colleges and universities, shopping centres and the public sector.
Based near Newtown, Powys, in Mid Wales, it has customers throughout the UK and provides a one-stop-shop for the planning, design and installation of products including access control, anti-skate studs, bollards, canopies and walkways, landscape structure and buildings, litter control and COVID-19 distancing products.
More details can be found at www.landmarkstreetfurniture.com.