NEW safety measures will be set up across town centres when shops reopen on Monday.

Retailers have been given the go ahead to open from the Government having been forced to close to slow the spread of coronavirus.

A raft of new safety features will be introduced in Braintree town centre, including floor markings which will allow customers to queue safely outside shops.

New signs will also be installed to remind shoppers of social distancing rules and people will be encouraged to wash their hands on a regular basis.

Shops will be asking all customers to make contactless payments where possible.

Braintree Council's economic development boss Tom Cunningham said: "Town centres have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and we’re pleased we’re now able to take the first steps towards supporting the recovery of our economy.

"While we welcome this, our priority must be the safety of people visiting and working in our town centres. It’s important we get the balance right.

"We all need to take responsibility to follow social distancing guidelines and respect the measures local businesses are putting in place to protect the safety of their staff and shoppers.

"We are committed to supporting local retailers and market traders to return to the high street, but it’s still so important that if you do visit, please shop safely and responsibly."

Similar rules and signage are to be put in place in Witham town centre and in particularly, along Newland Street.

Witham Town Council clerk James Sheehy said: "We have been been pleased to support Braintree Council’s hard work performed to ensure that our town centres may resume business safely and responsibly.

"The town hall is assisting with distribution of key information to retailers provided by the council and will be actively monitoring the town centre to help both workers and visitors with a smooth transition and help answer any concerns the public may have."

To support businesses, a free support pack has been prepared by the council which includes government guidance on what they need to do to ensure a safe re-opening of their business.

The pack includes posters which can be displayed in shop windows to remind customers to social distance.

Council bosses will continue to work with businesses over the coming weeks to monitor the town centres and high streets, ensuring people are keeping safe and to identify if any other measures that may need to be put in place.

The reopening of shops comes as both Braintree and Witham weekly markets continue a phased return.