The UK Government has set aside a £56 million fund to make both high streets and seaside resorts Covid-safe once they are permitted to reopen next month.
The ‘Welcome Back Fund’ will help councils boost tourism, improve green spaces and provide more outdoor seating areas, markets and food stall pop-ups in a bid to encourage people to stay outdoors as much as possible.
It will be used especially in coastal areas as the Government anticipates Brits will flock to the seaside with the anticipated lack of options for international travel this summer.
A statement from the Government said that councils can also use the funding to “boost the look and feel of their high streets by investing in street planting, parks, green spaces and seating areas to make high streets as beautiful and welcoming as possible”.
Other potential uses for the money include running publicity campaigns and preparing to hold events like street markets and festivals to support local businesses; installing signage and floor markings to encourage social distancing and safety; and improving high streets and town centres by planting flowers or removing graffiti.
Communities secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, said: “As we move to the next stage on the roadmap out of lockdown we are all looking forward to being reunited with friends and family outdoors and making a safe and happy return to our favourite shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
“Our Welcome Back Fund gives every city, town and high street support to prepare for a great summer. This funding will help councils and businesses to welcome shoppers, diners and tourists back safely.
“As soon as the roadmap allows, we need to get behind our local businesses and enjoy all that this country has to offer and that we’ve been missing so much.
“I’m allowing every pub in the country to erect a marquee in their garden for the whole summer as a one-off power to support our locals.”
This is in addition to the £350 million from the Future High Streets Fund, to be invested in 72 areas across England to renew and reshape town centres, along with a host of other measures designed to boost bricks-and-mortar retail.