10 Ways to Re-Open Our Communities While Keeping Everyone Safe

As more people begin to re-enter our high streets and town centres, as lockdown restrictions begin to ease, it is important to create a safe environment. Based on the Social Life Project, this constantly updated article provides 10 key ways in which to reopen places safely. It stresses the importance of involving local communities in recovery strategies, and covers topics such as social distancing, markets, cycling and walkability.

Date added 9 July 2020
Last updated 9 July 2020

Based on the Social Life Project, this constantly updated article provides 10 key ways in which to reopen places safely. Although it uses some examples and photographs from before the pandemic, the advice provided can be utilised in COVID-19 recovery strategies. It stresses the importance of involving local communities in such recovery strategies; as the article explains:

“The big idea here is to “tip-toe” our way back to a flourishing social life. This means capitalizing on this local knowledge to make sensible choices about how to reopen our communities at the same time as strengthening support for safety measures by involving local people in the decisions”.

The article suggests the ten pointers provided could begin as a more temporary experience, to “lay the foundation for more sustainable, resilient, safe, and healthy places”, before potentially being integrated into a longer-term placemaking vision.

 Ten ways to create flourishing communities

  1. Connecting socially (but safely) - it is important to encourage social connection in places, whilst ensuring safety around social distancing.
  2. Encourage (safe) promenading - the promenade experience seen, for example, in some Italian towns can encourage social connections, potentially in a safe way.
  3. Sidewalks and streets -the design of these need to be reconsidered in order to enable safe walking and cycling, and to enable people to physically distance.
  4. Bring the inside out of stores and restaurants– outdoor space should be made in order to enable shops and hospitality businesses to operate safely and to reconnect with the community.
  5. Bring the inside out of public buildings – small exhibitions could be set up in public spaces around places like government buildings, religious institutions, and schools to reconnect the community safely.
  6. Expanding outdoor seating– streets and sidewalks can be extended and expanded to create multiple types of seating with appropriate distancing.
  7. Accessibility – transform streets as places for walking, cycling, public transport, and cars, with precedence given to the former.
  8. Utilise markets further – make more use of market space, in some cases expanding this space as they are vital community assets.
  9. Vulnerable people– make these people a priority in what’s on offer in town centres and high streets. Ensure they are catered for in services and amenities.
  10. Community involvement– recovery strategies and place interventions should involve local voices and collaboration.

To learn more about the Social Life Project, please see here.