Benches have been cordoned off and markers have been put in place at Kingston Market to encourage the public to keep a social distance from one another during the coronavirus outbreak.

The measures were being put in place by Kingston First and council officers today to keep the public safe while also helping essential food traders keep their businesses open.

Kingston council leader Liz Green told the Local Democracy Reporting service that it was “very quiet” in town.

She hoped the latest measures would help to keep people at a safe distance from each other to prevent the transmission of coronavirus.

Signs have been put on market stalls to remind the public to stand two metres away from other customers if there is a queue.

Shoppers are encouraged to use contactless payments if possible.

Local branches of Barclays and NatWest banks have also got a controlled entry and queue system to prevent too many people from gathering.

Councillor Green said: “It may feel strange to talk to someone from two metres away or queue so spaced apart, but social distancing will literally save lives. Some people will not know they have COVID-19 as they have no or delayed symptoms.

“We all need to change how we act and think for those more at risk in our community. Follow Public Health England advice – keep two metres apart, wash hands frequently and properly, work from home if you can, and minimise travel. If we all do this, our social care services and the NHS will be able to cope better.”