Reopening Oxford

Guidance for businesses

This page provides information for businesses about the changes to shopping areas across Oxford, the latest guidance on reopening safely, and downloadable posters to help with social distancing.

Changes to Oxford shopping areas

These changes are focused on helping pedestrians and cyclists to maintain social distancing while travelling into and around the city centre, and our local shopping areas, from Monday 15 June onwards, when many ‘non-essential’ shops can re-open.

All of the measures being introduced are aimed at making it as safe as possible for your customers.

One-way systems

In line with central Government guidance, on a number of the city centre’s busiest streets, in the Covered Market and in Cowley Road, we are creating one-way pedestrian flow systems to encourage people to stick to the left-hand side of the street.

The aim of this is to speed up the flow of pedestrians and maximise opportunity for social distancing. A map showing the one-way guidance is available on the ‘information for residents and visitors’ page.

Outside tables and chairs

To support businesses in the hospitality sector we are looking to create new temporary zones for tables and chairs in Cornmarket and Broad Street in the city centre.

We are also developing a temporary protocol for businesses in other areas of the city centre and local shopping areas, who would like to apply for outside tables & chairs.

Our aim is to agree this in as many places as possible, but we should emphasise that this is only going to be where it leaves enough room for the work to maximise space for walking and cycling with social distancing.

If you would like to express an interest in having outside tablets and chairs, please email [email protected] or [email protected] if you are in a local shopping area, and we will share the zones and protocol details.


On a temporary basis, we are asking all businesses in Oxford city centre not to put out A-boards.

We are reviewing local shopping areas, and may ask businesses there to work with us on this issue where space is restricted.

We understand that many businesses value A-boards as a way to promote their offer, but with the focus on maximising space for walking and cycling with social distancing, this is a measure we need to take.

We will, however, be (a) reviewing this measure every two weeks to judge it against the emerging situation and (b) talking to businesses one-to-one in individual cases where there might be space to allow for A-boards to be sited.

If you believe this is something that could apply to your business, please email [email protected] or [email protected] if you are in a local shopping area, and let us know.

Street trading, busking and peddling

We are introducing a range of temporary measures to limit the impact of street trading, busking and peddling on our busiest streets because they will be especially difficult to operate within the requirements of social distancing.

The street trading pitches on Cornmarket in the city centre have been temporarily suspended, as have all city centre busking pitches, and we will be working with pedlars to ensure that their trolleys, trailers and stalls do not obstruct the highways and pavements. This will severely limit the amount of time a pedlar can spend in streets with one-way pedestrian flow.

Again we understand that this will be an issue for those involved but emphasise that (a) this is being done to maximise space for walking and cycling with social distancing and (b) these measures are also temporary, will be reviewed every two weeks, and may be adjusted on a one-to-one basis.


The responsibility for managing queues is with each individual business. Where you expect potential queues to extend outside your premises, the guidance expects businesses will be:

“Managing outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals or other businesses, for example by introducing queuing systems, using barriers and having staff direct customers.”


“Working with your local authority or landlord to take into account the impact of your processes, including queues, on public spaces such as high streets and public car parks.”

Oxford City Council has written the following additional guidance on queuing:

  • Please, as far as is possible, within social distancing guidelines manage queues so that they stay inside your premises.
  • Where that is not possible, please do not allow queues to run across pavements. This is likely to disrupt the flow of pedestrians along the pavement, and hamper efforts to keep people moving in a socially-distanced way. Instead, if you do need outside queuing, please arrange it along the frontage of your premises.
  • From 15th June, the City and County councils will implement one-way pedestrian flow arrangements for the busiest streets. If this applies where you are, please bear the direction of travel in mind when planning any outside queueing.
  • Work with your neighbour businesses so that your queues do not disrupt their operations, but also try to reach agreement to make use of their frontages if they’re not open or less likely to need customer queuing.
  • Have staff available to manage queues, where practical/possible.
  • Advise customers when leaving your premises to join the one-way direction of travel by turning left on exit.
  • Work out the maximum length of a queue that you can have without disrupting pedestrian flows or your neighbour’s operations, and mark that point so that it is clear to your customers not to queue beyond there, and ask your staff to ensure there is no queuing beyond that point.
  • If you need physical signage to mark queue lines or the end of queues, please think carefully about where they are sited so as not to disrupt pedestrian flows. Oxford City Council has made directional signage available on our website for you to use. For those premises such as fast food establishments, it is particularly important that you require your customers not to gather outside the front of your premises but to move to the nearest seating area – Bonn Square, Broad Street or Gloucester Green.

We will have a number of officers out and about to observe the situation as it develops, and to work with businesses to make adjustments.

Cleaning and waste collection

We are stepping up the cleaning regime across the city centre and in local shopping areas, including significantly increasing the cleaning of bus shelters, bins and cycle racks, and moving to hourly cleaning of public toilets.

As part of that, we are making changes to waste collection, and we will be in touch with details of that shortly.

In the meantime, it is important that you ensure that any waste that needs to be collected from the street is only put out near the time of collection and does not present an obstacle to pedestrian movement.

To enable businesses to reopen Oxford city centre must be as safe as possible for pedestrians and cyclists and so, for everyone’s benefit, these requirements will be strictly enforced.

Guidance on reopening safely

As part of the reopening process, you will need to ensure that a Covid-specific risk assessment has been completed and that appropriate controls are in place.

The Government has produced ‘Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)’ guidance, which can be found online at:

To help businesses, particularly small independents, in Oxford implement the Government’s guidelines, we have produced a template risk assessment. You do not have to use this template, but it may help simplify things for you.

Once you have carried out the risk assessment and put in place the appropriate controls, the  ‘Staying COVID-19 Secure in 2020’ poster must be prominently displayed in the front window or door of your shop – similar to the food hygiene rating ‘Scores on the Doors’.

If you have not used the water system at your premises for some time, it is important to consider the risk presented by legionella. Guidance on legionella lockdown risks can be found on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health website.

Downloadable resources

Please feel free to download and use these materials to inform and reassure your customers and colleagues.

All the artwork is ready to download and ready to print – just click on the filename under the image.

These are free to use.

If you'd like to send the artwork to a professional printer of your choice then please let us know and we will provide the artwork to you in a format they can work with. 

City centre businesses should contact us using: [email protected]. Businesses in local shopping areas should use: [email protected].

Image of posters saying "No queueing beyond this point"  Poster for businesses saying: "One way"  Poster for businesses saying: "Please take care, you are entering a potentially busy public space"  Poster for businesses saying: "Queue starts here"  Poster for businesses saying: "Sorry we're full"  Poster for businesses saying: "Turn left"  Poster for businesses saying: "Turn right"  Poster for businesses saying: "We re open"
Click on an image to download a high-resolution version

Grants and support

Your business may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants. For more information about this, please visit:

Keep in touch

We will be sending out regular updates by email so please write to us via [email protected] for city centre businesses or [email protected] if you are in a local shopping area, to ensure that you are on our database to receive this and other information about issues affecting your business in Oxford.

This information will only be used to communicate with you and will not be retained beyond Oxford City Council or used for any other purposes or passed to any other party or organisation.

Banner image that says: Keep your distance, look out for each other, and protect your community.