AN idea being considered in Worcestershire for shops to extend their floorspace into the street to help customers to social distance has been branded "ridiculous" by one business owner.

Worcestershire County Council is investigating ways to help local businesses reopen their doors to get the economy moving while also keeping staff and customers safe.

One idea being worked up is for shops to use the pavements to increase their floor space - the intention being that customers can more easily stay at least two metres apart - although the council admits the plans wouldn't work everywhere.

The county council said the proposals would be more suitable for areas which are pedestrianised, have wide footpaths, or are on boulevards. They say it won't be suitable for all shopping areas in Worcestershire.

Councillor Alan Amos, cabinet member for Highways, said: “We need to restore people’s freedom to go shopping again.

"We are discussing the practicalities of using pavements to increase floor space with all the appropriate bodies.

"Our first priority is people’s safety. We have to make sure that everyone can keep to the two metres social distancing guidance.

"We will continuing working through this idea and share with businesses when we have finalised all the arrangements.”

One shop owner, who runs businesses in Stourport and Bewdley, said the concept "is not a solution to social distancing".

Jon May, founder of Mooch Gifts and Home, said: "The idea sounds ridiculous. In Bewdley, the pavements aren't wide enough to put anything outside, especially when there's wheelchairs trying to get past.

"It also seems particularly strange considering businesses in our area have had to pay to have displays outside their shop - Mrs Chills Ice Cream Parlour for one.

"Then you have to think about security, people touching stock, which is something we'll be trying to prevent, and the people that will undoubtedly be queueing outside. It certainly isn't a solution to social distancing.

"We have busy high streets and when we reopen, we will end up with queues - we’re next door to a busy butchers. It just wouldn't work.

"I don't think the shops will have the staff to make sure nobody is pinching things outside.

"Maybe it would work in a pedestrianised area like Worcester, but not in the suburbs. It certainly wouldn't work in Bewdley or Stourport."