5. Additional communication, technology and regulatory considerations
In considering design interventions, owners and operators should also take account of signing and communications and opportunities through technology and regulatory considerations.
5.1 Temporary signing and communication considerations
Owners/operators are advised to provide clear and concise bilingual information to the public on how to adhere to social distancing. They are advised to emphasise the latest Welsh Government advice on safety procedures and carefully consider social distancing guidelines in public places. This could include:
- Using simple, clear and accessible images and messaging to explain guidelines, with consideration for groups whose first language may not be Welsh or English, or where alternative formats may be required.
- Showing the maximum number of people who can queue safely (accounting for social distancing).
- Signs and announcements about safe travel and maintaining social distancing. Signs should be placed strategically to maximise impact.
- Information on changes for disabled users and how they can continue to access public places in a safe way.
- Providing stewards in the busiest areas.
- Marking appropriate spaces for queuing, accounting for queues and space required by neighbouring premises whilst taking security considerations into account.
5.2 Additional digital considerations
Owners/operators may want to consider the use of data and digital tools to make it easier for people to maintain social distancing, and to aid decision making regarding the management and modification of spaces. This could include:
- Making data available that shows the current footfall of spaces, especially those spaces that are prone to overcrowding; access to data and digital tools will allow people to more effectively plan their journeys and choose alternative spaces or use spaces at other times of day.
- Owners/operators should consider using data and digital tools to monitor the usage of spaces, and to make modifications to the access and use of those spaces as required.
- Data and digital tools may also be needed to anticipate and plan for the changing use of public places over time, to expect and mitigate the potential for overcrowding at certain sites during peak usage times, and to take any necessary corrective measures to make it easier for people to socially distance.
- Developing strategies to help communicate with traders and members of the public using digital and social media. This could include providing updates on the ability to socially distance and inviting members of the public to report pinch-points.
- Consider how existing e-booking systems can be used to support the effective capacity management of public spaces, such as outdoor sports courts and provide key guidance for usage.
- Consideration should be made of the digitally excluded, which might include printed matter or use of local radio.
While undertaking any of the actions advised, account should be taken of risk of transmission through touch. In addition, you must have regard for your regulatory and statutory duties such as those in relation to cyber security and data protection.
5.3 Additional security and enforcement considerations
A revised layout may present new security risks, particularly where multiple queues are created. Owners and operators of public places are advised to consider the security implications of temporary interventions to support social distancing. To mitigate new security risks, we recommend that queuing is organised within areas that have existing protection such as vehicle security barriers. Where this is not possible you should consider: routing queues behind permanent physical structures (e.g. street furniture, bollards, trolley parks and bike racks) to provide a visual deterrent and delay; closing off vehicle access to shared spaces; adjusting servicing and delivery times; reducing the opportunities for vehicles (including potentially hostile vehicles mitigation) to interact with pedestrians; erecting robust barriers; introducing a reduced speed limit mandate and using traffic calming. Operators and authorities should not remove any security features / useful street furniture items without considering protective security in the round. Existing security regimes must not be compromised.
Links to additional guidance can be found in the Appendix.
5.4 Regulatory considerations
As an owner and/or operator of urban and/or green spaces it is important to consider all relevant legal obligations before implementing interventions recommended by this guidance. We set out some examples which may be relevant below. As set out above, this guidance document does not impose any legal obligations and there may be processes required prior to you being able to implement the guidance.
The Welsh Ministers have made funding available to local authorities to facilitate the implementation of local sustainable transport measures in response to COVID-19; some of these measures may require traffic regulation orders (permanent, experimental or temporary) to be made. The Traffic Orders Procedure (Amendment) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 came into force on 31 July 2020 and will expire at the end of the day on 31 July 2021.
Permitted Development Orders
Where interventions are needed such as temporary structures, planning permission may be permitted under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order (GPDO) 1995. Part 12 of Schedule 2 to the GDPO permits local authorities to erect, construct, maintain and improve a range of small structures and operations required in connection with the operation of any public service administered by them. New Part 12A of Schedule 2 to the GDPO enables local authorities to undertake any temporary development on land owned, leased, occupied or maintained by them for the purposes of preventing an emergency; reducing, controlling or mitigating the effects of an emergency; or taking other action in connection with an emergency. This might include the change of use of any building to any use and the erection of buildings or structures for those purposes.
Part 3A of Schedule 2 to the GDPO also introduces new permitted development rights for health service bodies to undertake certain temporary development for the purposes of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a response to a public health emergency. The development permitted is the change of use of a building or land from any class in the Schedule to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 or any other use to Class C2 (Residential institutions) or Class D1 (Non-residential institutions), and the provision of buildings or other structures.
Fire Safety Regulations
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order applies to all non-domestic premises– including any building, tent or moveable structure – and requires the person responsible for a premises to undertake a ﬁre risk assessment, review it regularly and put in place and maintain ﬁre protection measures to mitigate the risk to life from ﬁre. Where coronavirus and social distancing measures have impacted on the premises, it is recommended that the responsible person reviews their ﬁre risk assessment to ensure it is suitable and suﬃcient. Read guidance on ﬁre risk assessments on GOV.UK.
Responsible persons who do not have the time or expertise can ask a competent person to undertake the fire risk assessment. The National Fire Chiefs Council has made available guidance on choosing a competent risk assessor.