Reading town centre to reopen next week (15 June onwards)

TowcentreRBCMany  town centre shops are expected to reopen on the morning from Monday 15 June after the Government said ‘non-essential’ shops could trade from that date. Reading Borough Council and Reading UK are urging people to make their journey count by checking in advance if the shops they wish to visit will be open.

Reading Borough Council, Reading UK and Thames Valley Police are all keen to welcome people back into Reading town centre, and are asking residents to help make it a success by paying special attention to changes introduced to help with social distancing guidelines, which remain in place at this time.


Social Distancing in the Town Centre

A package of new measures is being introduced to help visitors access and navigate the town centre easily and safely, whilst respecting social distancing. These include

  • A number of pedestrian one-way systems, including on Union Street, Oxford Road by Broad Street Mall, Station Road and the station subway
  • Barriers to direct pedestrians at pinch points, especially busy bus stops
  • Painted lines in public areas to help shoppers with maintaining social distancing

Relevant signage is being put in place across the town centre, reminding people of social distancing  restrictions and asking them to remain vigilant and respectful of all shop staff and other visitors to the town centre.

Hygiene in the Town Centre

Visitors are encouraged to be proactive and look after themselves by bringing their own hand sanitiser when they come. This is to complement those being provided by a number of businesses at the entrance to their shops.

People bringing their own hand sanitiser and using it regularly will help reinforce the increased  hygiene measures being introduced by Reading Borough Council and Reading UK. This will include a disinfectant clean in June of over 39,000 square feet of public space. There will also be cleaning teams out every day to ensure the town centre remains as clean and hygienic as possible.

Hand washing facilities will be available across Reading’s public toilets, which will be open in St Martin’s Precinct, Caversham Court, Meadway Precinct (disabled toilet only), Cemetery Junction and Albert Road, Town Hall Uri lift which will now be left open in the daytime as well as through the evening / night with toilet facilities also available in some shops and in the Oracle shopping centre.

Help at Hand

For visitors who need assistance whilst visiting Reading in these unprecedented times, help is at hand.

Two Reading BID (Business Improvement District) wardens will be on duty during business hours, three or more pastors will be in attendance between 10am and 2pm on weekdays and Thames Valley Police will have a presence around the town centre as part of a co-ordinated team approach between Reading Borough Council, Reading UK and Thames Valley Police to assist the public.

All three groups will be on the move, offering a welcome, reassurance and advice to help facilitate a safe visit.

Travelling Around Reading

In recognition that Government advice is to avoid using public transport where possible due to social distancing guidelines, Reading Borough Council is particularly encouraging people to walk or cycle when travelling around town, to help maintain the positive environmental impact that has been observed recently due to reduced emissions from a decline in car journeys.

A number of changes are being made to help pedestrians and cyclist get around town safely.  These include making some roads one-way to increase space available for walking, and creating more cycle lanes. One part of the work, creating a cycle lane over Reading Bridge, will begin on Wednesday and be finalised on Friday so it is complete in time for the reopening of the town centre. Details of where and when the changes will go live can be found here:

Bus services have increased since 1st June for those without alternative travel means, but with reduced capacity on each bus to observe social distancing. Passengers are advised to use contactless payment. Train services are increasing to Saturday levels. It has also been announced by the Government that wearing face coverings will be compulsory on public transport from 15th June.

The town centre section of Reading’s first ever red route will also go live from Monday 15th June. When operational, red route no stopping restrictions will run along the far east section of the Oxford Road, before its junction with Broad Street, south along St Mary’s Butts and on to Castle Street, Gun Street and Minster Street, north along West Street and then east along Friar Street. The route also includes Market Place and King Street and Kings Road, where it will link with the eastern section of the route.

Reading Borough Council Leader Jason Brock said: "I am sure that there will be a sense of relief that residents can once again visit and shop in the Town Centre, but it is essential everybody pays close attention to the guidance being given, which is there to help keep residents and shop staff safe.

“It is important people take some time to familiarise themselves with the changes, plan their journeys into town and think about their journeys across the town centre. We would ask everybody to be respectful of other people and the social distancing guidelines which remain in place.

“These are the first few steps to some sort of normality, but we need everybody to keep safe and respect the limitations at this time.”

Nigel Horton-Baker of Reading UK added: “Many key workers have been working in Reading town centre’s essential retail businesses such as banks and pharmacies throughout lockdown. As our other shops prepare to reopen on 15 June, we would like to publicly thank those key workers and to recognise the vital but often unrecognised work they do.

“As shoppers return to Reading town centre over the next few weeks, we urge them respect the safety of our colleagues and other customers by following the guidelines for social distancing, hand washing and moving around town. Help us return Reading town centre to the vibrant, safe and welcoming place it has always been. We look forward to welcoming you back, safely.”



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