Businesses in Elgin’s town centre have breathed a sigh of relief after the council announced plans to scale back its social distancing measures.
Diversions, one-way systems, parking bans and extended pavements have all been used in towns across Moray to help people comply with physical distancing guidelines.
Yesterday the council revealed its plans to change these measures after October 25 to ensure the town is “accessible”.
The temporary pedestrianisation of east High Street and south Lossie Wynd, currently in place from 11am-4pm, is ending.
Temporary restrictions on west High Street and Batchen Street will also stop.
Shoppers will still be able to use the widened pavements on east High Street between Muckle Cross and Commerce Street.
The all-vehicle restriction on Commerce Street between 11am and 4pm will end, and it will revert back to being pedestrianised except for permit holders and those accessing disabled parking bays.
This will require continued relocation of the taxi rank, and suspension of the disabled parking bays outside Farmfoods and additional disabled parking bays in car parks will remain.
Business owners who are temporarily using land outside their premises for tables and chairs while the current restrictions are in place will be spoken to directly.
In the coming months, additional cycle storage will be installed in the centre of Elgin, to encourage active travel.
Feature gates are also being installed at either end of the High Street, to allow easy pedestrianisation if needed in the future, particularly for events.
This comes after businesses pleaded with the council to drop road closures amid reports they had halved takings.
Richard Cumming, who runs Sirology, hopes the removal of the measures will get people back into the town centre.
Mr Cumming said: “I think this is best for the town – especially with the free parking ending at the same time.
“It is a shame Moray Council did not respond to many people’s concerns and communications over the closures and just announced the end in the majority of the town but hopefully it will help people get back into town and support the brilliant range of businesses we have.”
FP Birnie pet shop owner Andrew Birnie was “delighted” with the news after seeing his trade “go off a cliff edge” due to restrictions.
Elgin Bid’s chief executive Gemma Cruickshank said: “I am delighted that Moray Council have listened to the local businesses and have decided to reopen the roads where now they can hopefully begin some recovery of the trade lost in these past few months.”
While Sarah Holmes, who runs Pencil Me In said the council should explore opportunities to still have some pedestrianisation on Batchen Street.
She added: ” I have enjoyed the pedestrianisation however I don’t want businesses to stop getting trade.
“I would like the council to work with police to manage parking on Batchen Street.
“There is a lot of potential to still have pedestrianisation on Batchen Street with possibly closing on Saturday from 12pm until 4pm during the summer months to help lunch time trade.”
Council leader Graham Leadbitter said officials will continue to work to keep the town centre as “accessible and as safe as possible”.