Guide to Retailers on Using Pavement Space for Social Distancing and Queues

Birmingham City Council has issued this Guide to  Using Pavement Space for Social Distancing and Queues.Birmingham City Council is mindful of the Working Safely during Coronavirus guidance issued by the Government. Considering this guidance, retailers will be reviewing their processes to ensure that two-metre social distancing is maintained wherever possible.

The available pavement space will need to be used efficiently to ensure that everyone is able to get around safely whilst allowing businesses to queue customers where there is no practical alternative.
To assist businesses, Birmingham City Council has produced the following guidance:

Alternatives to queueing outside:

Whilst it has become common practice for supermarkets and similar, to queue customers in their car parks, there is not enough pavement space for every business to do this.

• Alternatives to queueing such as delivery/collection services, virtual queues, and appointments should be considered and used wherever possible.
• Where reasonably practicable, internal space (and any outside space the business may own) should be used to accommodate any required queueing.

Queueing on the pavement:

Businesses will be permitted to use the public pavement outside their premises for queues if they cannot queue customers inside or outside on their own property, or where these queues overspill.

• Such use of the Public Highway will be exempt from the usual City Council fees and charges.
• Individual businesses will be responsible for managing any queueing system implemented on the pavement and will exempt the City Council from any liability.
• People must not be forced to enter somewhere dangerous (such as the carriageway) or pass within 2m of others as a result of any queueing.


• Only pavements wider than 3.2m will be able to accommodate queues.
• On busy pavements with significant 2-way pedestrian flow, more than 5.5 metres will be needed to allow a single line of queueing.
• Only the pavement space in line with each store’s frontage should be used.
• In larger pedestrian precincts there may be markings indicating available queueing space, queues must not spread beyond these markings.
• Queues must be well managed. Businesses must calculate how many people can queue safely in the space available and manage this effectively – ‘DO NOT JOIN QUEUE’ signage and/or staff actively managing queues will be needed in most cases.
• Emergency access and egress routes, and normally permitted vehicle access must be maintained.
• Goods, A-boards, flags, menu boards and similar items are not permitted on the Highway and must be removed.
Essential notices for crowd management and public safety may be permitted on a case by case basis.
• Queueing infrastructure such as crowd control barriers and tensa barriers should be avoided.
• Be mindful of potential ‘vehicle as a weapon’ attack routes, use less vulnerable spaces as a preference, and brief staff to be vigilant. You should also take the opportunity to review your evacuation and counter terrorism emergency plans in light of your updated operating arrangements.

Marking of the Highway

• Whilst normally prohibited, marking the pavement for the purposes of assisting with socially distanced queueing will be permitted. In many cases, a small simple disk (or similar) showing where each person should wait, should be enough.
• Use of tape and vinyl will be allowed, but this must be suitably certified anti-slip material designed for the purpose.
Care must be taken to ensure that it does not become a trip or slip hazard, and liability will remain with the business
using it.
• Temporary spray paint / chalk marking / stencilling will be a suitable alternative, however, businesses will need to
be mindful that regular re-marking may be required.
• Permanent markings, such as thermoplastic road paint will require formal approval by the City Council.

Businesses should follow this guide in the first instance. If you have difficulties adhering to the guide and you wish to discuss your specific requirements, please email If you are a city centre business, please email –

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