Preparations are being made for an influx of shoppers and possible heavy traffic when non-essential stores open next month.

The Government announced on Monday (May 25) that all non-essential retailers will be able to reopen in England from June 15.

Watford Borough Council said it is anticipating large numbers of shoppers in the town as intu Watford reopens more stores.

Town mayor Peter Taylor is encouraging shoppers to walk or cycle to ease traffic flow and congestion on roads.

He said the council is also working with business group Watford BID, police and Hertfordshire County Council (highways) to make people "feel confident" about coming back to the high street.

Mr Taylor said: "Some shops in our town centre have continued to operate throughout the lockdown but we know that people will be returning in greater numbers over the next few weeks as more businesses start to open from June 15.

"We are keen to welcome visitors back but need to do this safely. I know that Hertfordshire County Council, who are in charge of our roads, are aware of the problems many residents regularly experience with traffic in our area.

Watford Observer:

Non-essential shops are allowed to reopen from June 15. Photo: Holly Cant

"We are expecting it to be busy and would really encourage people to walk or cycle if they can.

"This is the safest, healthiest and quickest way to get around but if you have to drive, you may have to be patient as safety measures in the town centre car parks will mean it will take that bit longer to get in and out of Watford."

Earlier this week, intu announced the safety measures it will be implementing when shops reopen. These include closing some parking bays, introducing a one-way system, floor stickers and limiting the number of people and cars in and out of the centre at a time.

Other parts of the plan were deep cleaning touch points like escalators, toilets and keypads and having hand sanitisation stands at the entrances and other locations in the centre.

Some social distancing measures have already been introduced in Watford High Street.

This includes shutting off bus stops and parkings bays to allow more space for pedestrians.

Yellow signs have also gone up encouraging people to keep their distance.

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