Is this the future of tourism? How York plans to make visitors walk one-way down The Shambles

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Is this the future of tourism? How York plans to make visitors walk one-way down its famous street The Shambles to ensure social distancing after lockdown

  • York is considering plans to bring in a one-way system on the Shambles 
  • The narrow streets see visitors packed shoulder-to-shoulder into narrow lanes
  • Other ideas being considered include on-street hand sanitiser dispensers 

York is considering plans to make visitors to its historic Shambles walk one-way to keep social distancing in place after lockdown. 

The proposal is part of a ‘confidence charter’ drawn up by the York Retail Forum to help ease visitors’ worries when the city – which typically hosts more than 8 million visitors a year – is open again.

Other ideas being considered include on-street hand sanitiser dispensers and encouraging visitors to forego selfies and to keep moving, the Guardian reports.

The narrow streets – which see visitors packed into narrow lanes – played a part in the quick spread of the Black Death in the 14th century, leading half the population to be wiped out one summer. 

Phil Pinder, chair of the York Retail Forum, said: ‘Obviously we have lots of narrow streets and you can’t keep the necessary distance away from other people if you have people going in both directions.’

York is considering plans to make visitors to its historic Shambles walk one-way to keep social distancing in place after lockdown

Mr Pinder also runs the exotic drinks shop the Potions Cauldron on the Shambles – which is thought to have been part of the inspiration behind Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.

‘Our shop is 2.5 metres by five metres, and so you can already see social distancing is hard. But outside my shop the width of the street is only about three metres,’ he said.

‘We had a meeting at the retail forum last week and we agreed that narrow streets have got to be one-way. When everyone is walking in different directions it’s difficult to get from one end to the other, so we are looking to the council to put up cones, maybe even metal barriers, and signs to show people clearly where they should walk.’

Mr Pinder is also considering serving customers through a horizontal sliding hatch seen in old listed buildings called a ‘Yorkshire window’.

MP for York Central Rachael Maskell said the one-way idea ‘made sense’ because the city is full of ‘narrow little snickets’ – but controlling it might prove challenging. 

A customer buys food through the window of a bakery in the Little Shambles, York, April 4

A customer buys food through the window of a bakery in the Little Shambles, York, April 4 

She said the city is now at an ‘economic crossroads’ and once lockdown ends it will need investment in the right places, ‘otherwise it will just fall over’.   

The government put the UK on lockdown on March 23 and enforced social distancing to try to combat the spread of the virus.

Guidance on its website says: ‘If you meet others when you are outdoors (for example, on a walk) ensure that you stay at least 2 metres away.’

A government spokesman has previously told MailOnline: ‘Public Health England guidance clearly shows that coronavirus can be spread when people come into close contact with those who are infected.

‘It is absolutely vital that people continue to follow social distancing guidance to protect the NHS and save lives.

‘This includes staying at home, only going outside for food, health reasons or work – and if you go out, stay two metres away from other people at all times.’

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