A NEW initiative has been launched to increase the amount of space for outside dining in the city.

To support local businesses and improve customer experience, Southampton City Council and Go! Southampton introduced Southampton Inside Out for outside business premises and designated public spaces.

And whilst the lifting of lockdown and easing of restrictions gets underway, city bosses have stressed that it is important that people feel safe and reassured about returning to towns and cities and visiting their favourite shops, restaurants and attractions again.

In Southampton, a number of initiatives have been put in place to ensure it’s a safe place and ready for residents to enjoy, including the Be Smart, Stay Apart stickers scattered around busy parts of the city.

Floor markers have been put in place to help everyone stay safe when queuing outside shops and walking through the city centre.

Other city centre measures include increased pedestrianisation such as widened footpaths and more secure cycle parking provision.

Surfaces which are used and touched by many people such as benches, bins and gates are being disinfected with antiviral spray on a regular basis by the City Services teams.

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They are also continuing to disinfect high-contact areas of car parks like handrails, lifts and ticket machines.

Residents can also travel by public transport, however face coverings are essential and capacity is reduced.

Face coverings are also a must in shops now for both customers and staff.

Shops are limiting the number of customers allowed in-store at any one time for everyone’s safety, and opening hours may temporarily be different.

And after a long period of enforced closure for hospitality businesses, many of Southampton’s pubs, restaurants and cafes have now reopened.

Open hospitality businesses all have to follow strict safety guidance, ranging from social distancing to rigorous cleaning and staff hygiene protocols, and have to collect customer contact details to support contact tracing in the event of a confirmed Covid-19 case.

The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme is also available at over 130 outlets in Southampton.