SHOPS classed as ‘non-essential’ are re-opening in Uttoxeter’s town centre for the first time since March. Many retailers closed when the UK Government ordered a lockdown in a bid to combat the coronavirus pandemic. But further easing announced last month came into force on Monday, with many high street shops opening for the first time in 12 weeks.
High street chains and independent stores have adapted a series of measures to provide safe shopping for townsfolk, including sanitising stations, one-way systems and steam-cleaning for clothes that have been tried on.
Alison Trenery is a member of Uttoxeter’s Town Centre Forum. She said: “Following the thorough preparations by the planning group the re-opening of town centre businesses is going very smoothly, and after a quiet start custom is building up. Not all shops are open yet but more will be open soon, and the re-opening of the public toilets and planned repair of the bollard make it an even better experience for shoppers. During the lockdown I have seen plenty of enthusiasm on social media for supporting local independent shops, cafes and bars, and I hope that we see people putting this into practice.
“The Town Centre Forum wants to encourage more traders to set up independent businesses in town, but these will only flourish if Uttoxeter residents value their town centre and make it a real focus for their shopping and social life.”
While some shops classed as essential have been trading throughout the lockdown, new rules and services such as delivery and take-away have helped them work through the strictest restrictions. A range of new measures – including street signage, deep cleaning and stencilled queue zones and pedestrian one-way routes – were put in place by a special task force to help aid social distancing as shoppers returned to the town centre.
ESBC was awarded £106,000 from the Government as part of a scheme to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus as lockdown restrictions ease. As well as signage in town centres and car parks, the council has also committed to:
The council consulted and worked with a range of key stakeholders including Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Police, shopping centres, bus companies and town and parish councils, to consider the measures required to facilitate a safe shopping environment.
Uttoxeter Town Mayor and East Staffordshire Borough Council Cabinet Support Member, Cllr Sue McGarry, spear-headed the task force which targeted both Burton and Uttoxeter. She said: “It will be great to see people starting to return to our town centres but we will need everyone’s patience and cooperation to make it work. Please familiarise yourself with the changes before your visit, remember to stay two metres apart from fellow shoppers, keep sanitising your hands, and stay at home if you or any of your household have any symptoms of coronavirus.”
Helen Fisher, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Transport and Highways, said: “We’re working with East Staffordshire Borough Council to help where we can and we’ve been out on the streets to look at where pedestrians and shoppers queuing might come together. It’s up to us all to make this work by following the spirit of social distancing. If we’re polite, patient and use common sense we can work together to help our High Street businesses and keep infection rates down.”
The latest Government updates for businesses are available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19. For more specific details and maps about the local measures being put in place, visit the ESBC website: www.eaststaffsbc.gov.uk/coronavirus/safe-town-centres.
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