Barriers to imposing car-free streets are being lifted following a government decision to enable key workers to walk or cycle more safely.
Normally, councils in England that want to close streets to cars must follow procedures that can take weeks to implement.
But ministers say councils can now cut red tape governing temporary road closures.
This could help people walk and cycle whilst social distancing.
Health and environment groups say the measures will also promote healthy walking and cycling – and tackle climate change and air pollution.
A letter from the Department of Transport to councils in England says: “This is temporary guidance and will be withdrawn once conditions allow.”
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But campaigners say that, even after the epidemic peaks, many workers will still fear infection from public transport. They will also be wary of car accidents.
That applies particularly to novice cyclists, who have recently dusted off their bikes during the crisis.
The campaign groups want ministers to encourage all councils to make simple changes such as using bollards to shut streets to motor vehicles.
Brighton has already closed off a major road to allow people to carry out social distancing while walking, running or cycling.
The organisations behind the road closure initiative include Barts NHS Trust, Cycling UK, British Cycling, Sustrans, Brompton Cycles and The Ramblers.