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Safer streets for Sunderland, as shops prepare to reopen

Sunderland residents are being told to expect some changes to the streetscape, as COVID-19 safe measures are put in place in preparation for non-essential traders opening their doors.

Sunderland City Council chiefs are making a number of changes to prepare for the reopening of a range of city businesses on Monday [June 15], as eased-lockdown measures are expected to see more people return to the city centre and other key retail spots across Sunderland.

The council has told visitors to expect alterations to the look of the city, with the removal of some seating, one-way systems, temporary traffic measures and road diversions to enable social distancing and adaptations to the location of bus stops, as part of a package of measures to minimise the risk of the virus spreading. 

Councillor Michael Mordey, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, and chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, said: “Our primary objective will always be to protect residents and to limit the spread of this devastating virus, while supporting businesses that are vital to the vibrancy and dynamism of this city .

“We recognise that some residents will be eager to get out of the house and use the shops that are reopening on Monday, and we want to support them to do that safely, so we have put in place in number of changes to minimise the risk to those residents keen to get out and about once more.

“In particular the council has focused on making changes to areas with high pedestrian usage, narrow footpaths or where there is a strong likelihood of pedestrians queuing for shops.”

Though the pace of change needed means the council has been unable to consult with shop holders as it normally would, with most still closed, Sunderland City Council has said it will work with traders to ensure that the measures it has put in place are adapted, where required, to maintain safety while not restricting trade.

Cllr Mordey added: “This is a careful balance, and we want to support businesses that we know have been heavily impacted by COVID-19, as well as ensuring that residents are able to have a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.”