PUBLIC toilets need to be opened at the same time as the market and shops reopen - say city centre traders.

The government says open air markets can reopen from Monday - although some essential retailers are currently open at Shambles Market.

And city centre shops are preparing to reopen from June 15 - in response to national guidance.

But businesses are calling for arrangements to be put in place to make sure there are toilet facilities in place - for both visitors and traders to use.

A City of York Council spokesperson said the local authority is looking at the issue.

A spokesperson for the Shambles Market business improvement group said: “We don’t want the city we love to get caught with its pants down.

“If we are to reopen in a responsible and hygienic way, we will need extra Covid-appropriate public toilet and hand washing facilities.

“If we are having to queue up for a long time, that’s going to make working very difficult for people who are lone traders.

“People who come in to the city centre, and families with children, will need to use the toilet."

He suggested a temporary toilet could be put in place in St Sampson's Square - where a previous toilet block stood, which was demolished last year.

He said: “The Silver Street toilets are not big enough and would have to be a one-in-one-out approach to follow the guidelines. There is quite often no soap and the water doesn’t run for long enough.

“A simple idea would be to have a temporary toilet block in St Sampson’s Square, with a one way system, and charging people to use it to offset the cost of providing it.

“If we can work this out and get it in place, it will be a key part of why people feel safe and welcome to come to York's wonderful City Centre. We do urgently need to get the basics right.

“We’re not criticising the council, we would like to help them. The councillors have been really helpful and supportive.

"The financial assistance from the council has been the difference between survival and not for some businesses and we are really grateful."

A council spokesperson said the authority is yet to finalise a decision on providing public toilets - but hopes to make an announcement soon in line with government guidance.

Toilets will be discussed as part of the council's recovery strategy - due to be discussed at a meeting on June 25 after a public consultation in launched.

They said councillors and officers are looking at ways to adapt and reopen different services to support the city's economic recovery - while following public health advice as restrictions relax.