EASTLEIGH Town Centre will be temporarily car free to allow people to continue social distancing when non-essential shops reopen next week.

Civic chiefs in Eastleigh have decided to pedestrianise both Market Street and High Street within the town centre from Monday, June 15, to provide a safe trading environment and to enable safe, social distance queuing for shoppers on the additional road space.

With more non-essential retail shops due to open and restrictions to the number of people allowed in a shop at any one time, the demand for space for customers to queue on pavements will increase and businesses, particularly the food service industry, may need more space to operate outside.

Chair of Eastleigh Local Area Committee (ELAC), Cllr Paul Bicknell had described the decision as "unanimous" and the decision was made with public health as the number one priority.

He said: "The unanimous decision by ELAC to close High Street and Market Street is a great way to help our town centre to re-open and, most importantly, to help protect the safety of shoppers. The introduction of these and other social distancing measures in our town will help to create a safe trading environment for businesses and shoppers.

"We want to ensure that everyone who uses our town centre is confident they have safe space in which to shop and walk around the town especially as numbers increase as we move forward in the future. It's important that shops and businesses are supported in this way while protecting Public Health which is as always our number one priority.”

The Government is advising local authorities to make appropriate changes to local roads to help with social distancing for residents, pedestrians and cyclists and Eastleigh town centre is a priority area due to the high footfall.

For more information including a map of the new changes and FAQs for residents and businesses visit the council website.