Footfall in Aberdeen city centre has increased by almost a quarter in the last week as shops and other businesses reopen.
Pavements have been widened with extension benches and outdoor eating areas have installed on Union Street to help keep pedestrians safe.
And works have also been carried out in other areas of the city, including Rosemount, Torry and Peterculter, to ensure people can maintain social distancing rules.
The council said footfall had increased by 24.6% compared to last week in the city centre after safety measures were put in place.
However, business owners fear the works will have a “detrimental” impact on shops.
Alan Watt, who owns Belvidere Gallery on Rosemount Place, said businesses in the area had been deprived of customers as a result of the works.
The road where his shop is based was turned into a one-way system this week with buses diverted along a different route.
He said: “Many of the businesses here have taken photographs at different times of the day showing how empty the streets are, I don’t think there has been any increase in footfall.
“A lot of the shops depend on people with cars and we are in the same situation as all the big supermarkets.
“We have, all of a sudden, been deprived of people who are able to drop-off and pick up items such as as wallpaper and picture frames.
“Our delivery vehicles are also been severely interrupted. Some of our drivers are having to stop in the middle of the road because it is so impractical to drive around trying to find a parking spot. Business can’t operate like that, it will just cease up.”
Alan said Aberdeen City Council’s plans could prove even more difficult for businesses during the winter months.
He added: “We get glass deliveries and usually these are dropped off right outside the door for safety, but now it’s a long walk along the pavement with heavy glass.
“It’s maybe doable in the summer time, but in the winter it will become very difficult.
“What the council has done is extremely detrimental to the area.”
Neil Selbie, who owns kilt shop Neil Selbie & Co, said that while his business isn’t badly affected, there aren’t as many people in Peterculter as usual.
He said: “We’re very fortunate in the sense that most people plan on coming to visit us, rather than just popping in.
“Most people travel specifically to make an appointment and book something ahead of weddings.
“It’s not really affected us but I can see how other shops which rely more on local trade might struggle.
“I think they need to be supported now more than ever, not just in Peterculter but everywhere. The next six months will be challenging for retailers.
“If you look out the window, there isn’t nearly as many people walking about.”
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Aberdeen City Council transport spokeswoman Councillor Sandra Macdonald said: ‘We have responded to the concerns raised by businesses and have amended the scheme where it has been possible.
“We’re aware we cannot keep everyone happy as something that works for one business may not work well for another.
“We will continue to have dialogue with local businesses, stakeholders and residents and to review the measures once they have had an opportunity to get established.”
Aberdeen City Council said it was continuing its preparations to reinstate more services across the city as it was confirmed Scotland would be moving to phase three of the government’s route map out of lockdown.
Council co-leader Councillor Douglas Lumsden said: “We are all keen to get back to ‘normal’ but it will take time, and it will be different, however today marks another step on our route map journey.
“The council has been able to move safely forward because we’ve prepared for recovery and have been rigorous when reinstating services – an approach that will continue through Phase 3.
“We have Financial Resilience Recovery Plan that ensures we can keep delivering key services whilst still balancing our books, the £1.76 million Spaces for People project that has allowed activity in the city centre and elsewhere to safely resume and businesses to start trading again, and a Socio-Economic Rescue Plan that positions us to thrive again.
“The council, in conjunction with public and private organisations, will lead the charge as the city adapts. In promoting recovery we need pace but canniness too – or we risk losing all the progress to date.”
Aberdeen City Council is preparing to reopen Aberdeen Art Gallery later in the summer in line with the latest safety guidance.
It has said it is likely to be some time before the Maritime Museum, Tolbooth and Treasure Hub are open due to the challenges with physical distancing rules.
The libraries service is also planning a safe phased reopening.
Co-leader councillor Jenny Laing added: ““We are committed to playing our part to help Aberdeen emerge from lockdown in a way that protects public health, especially our most vulnerable, and sustains our local economy.
“As we make our way through Phase 3, the safeguarding of staff and customers remains our top priority.
“The impact in terms of people’s health and economic recovery of a localised or national return to lockdown cannot be underestimated.”