SKIPTON High Street is to remain closed to traffic on market days until the end of the year to allow safe social distancing.
The High Street has been made pedestrian only between 10am to 4pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, since the market reopened following a relaxation in coronavirus restrictions in June.
Motorists can still reach Jerry Croft and the Town Hall car park when the High Street is closed by using the roundabout at the top of the High Street.
Craven is currently at the lowest, Tier 1, of the Government’s Covid-19 alert levels, with a ‘medium’ risk, which means national restrictions continue to apply.
Councillor Richard Foster, leader of Craven District Council, said: “The closure of Skipton High Street on market days has been well received by the majority of people.
“We want to allow as much space as possible for social distancing to help prevent further rises in the number of Covid-19 cases in Craven. However, we also want to allow Skipton town centre to be safe and open for business.
“We know how important the market is to our local economy and the road closure means market stalls can face towards the road. This helps maintain social distancing for market customers and other visitors and pedestrians on the High Street, and helps keep everyone safe.”
The decision to keep the High Street closed on market days has been made jointly by the district council, Skipton Town Council and Skipton BID.
Signs have also been put up around the town centre reminding people of the importance of social distancing, and pointing them towards pedestrian-friendly routes.
A team of Town Centre Ambassadors, and Craven District Council’s Community Safety Officer, are also present on the High Street to assist residents, visitors and traders – and to liaise with all businesses to try and resolve any matters which might arise.
Before the introduction of the road closure in June, businesses were surveyed to share their thoughts regarding road closures and the reopening of the High Street for the market and non-essential shops.
A total of 164 businesses responded to the survey, with 62 per cent in favour of the road closure, and 22 per cent against.
A shopper in Skipton on market day, Wednesday,said she felt ‘very safe in the town’ and many have written letters to the Craven Herald in support of the closed High Street.
“If there was still traffic on the High Street on market days it would be much more difficult to keep your distance from people, “ said Helen Markham.
There are however concerns that North Yorkshire as a whole - which includes Craven - is hanging to its Tier 1 status ‘by a thread’.
This week, Richard Webb, North Yorkshire County Council’s corporate director for Health and Adult Services, told a meeting of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum that the situation was on a “knife-edge”.
Mr Webb said it would be better for the region to remain in Tier 1 but the were worrying trends in parts of North Yorkshire as neighbouring West Yorkshire looks likely to join South Yorkshire in Tier 3 restrictions.
“The situation in North Yorkshire is hanging by a thread,” he said
For further guidance on reopening businesses and workplaces safely, go to www.cravendc.gov.uk/coronavirus