Shops reopening: Here’s what your town is doing to keep people safe
PUBLISHED: 14:38 14 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:52 14 June 2020
©Archant Photographic 2010
Monday marks a crucial moment for high streets up and down the country.
Non-essential retailers are permitted to reopen their doors for the first time in almost three months so long as they adhere to strict guidelines, including social distancing.
Failure to impose safety measures could result in shops receiving enforcement notices.
This newspaper has launched the Love Local campaign to encourage people to spend within our region and give the independent industry a vital boost as businesses across the county reopen their doors following the coronavirus lockdown.
Across Norfolk and Waveney much work has been carried out behind the scenes to ensure shoppers feel confident and safe as the tills start ringing once more.
Here is the lowdown on what is being done in various communities.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council was one of the first local authorities to reveal what its busy communities will look like as the new normal comes into effect.
Messages have been temporarily sprayed onto pavements, while signs will ask people to ‘keep left’ and stay two metres apart from others.
A one-way, stay left system will be in place on Great Yarmouth’s High Street, seafront, Regent Street, Regent Road, and King Street through to St George’s Theatre.
Hemsby’s Beach Road is also subject to the restrictions while, in Gorleston, parking will be suspended on the west side of the car park at Lower Parade and on High Street at the two narrowest points.
Barriers in Great Yarmouth Market Place will provide a thoroughfare for pedestrians and the town’s rows will become one-way.
Jack Lovick, who works at AB Computers on Regent Street, is predicting a swift return to normal levels of footfall, despite having to enforce safety measures.
“Considering the amount of messages I’ve been getting during lockdown, I would be very surprised if we don’t pick up quite quickly - but only time will tell,” said Mr Lovick.
“As well as social distancing we’ll have a screen at the counter and won’t allow more than two people in the store at any one time.”
In west Norfolk, precautions including pavement widening using barriers, floor stickers and one-way systems will ensure social distancing in King’s Lynn.
Market stalls have also been relocated from the pedestrianised town centre to the Tuesday Market Place, freeing up extra space.
Shoppers are being advised by the borough council to think and try and avoid the busiest times - between 10am and 1pm.
Alistair Cox, manager of King’s Lynn’s Vancouver Quarter shopping district, said: “Shopping safely, providing social distancing guidance and ensuring our centre is COVID-secure is an essential part of the careful steps that will help shoppers feel safe and welcome.
“We all are adapting to the new normal and we ask shoppers to appreciate that measures being put in place are to keep everyone safe.”
Breckland, South Norfolk and Broadland
The three councils have taken a collaborative approach to get 15 market towns back on their feet.
Each town has a bespoke plan with measures including hand-sanitising stations, extra seating and planters, temporary changes to parking and, in some instances, temporary traffic restrictions.
Among them in Wymondham, where Market Street, Market Place and Queen Street will be closed to through traffic and pedestrianised, although access will be maintained for businesses, loading, buses, residents and emergencies.
Extra bike racks are being installed to encourage more people to cycle into town, while the temporary lifting of parking charges will remain in place “for now”.
Louis Debenham, owner of Thetford-based vape shop Skyloft, said it would likely take time for businesses to adjust.
“It’s going to really change our functionality and, to begin with, there will be a fair bit of trial and error,” he said.
“We’re quite small so we’ll have to have a one-in, one-out policy, and there’s not really any way around it. It’s our responsibility to make sure everyone is safe.”
The district council has launched its ‘You Are Welcome’ campaign to help businesses and customers feel comfortable as they return to towns including Holt and Fakenham, as well as various coastal destinations.
NNDC has been working with the county council to narrow some roads, widen pavements and create advisory one-way systems in central and promenade areas.
Meanwhile, Cromer-based manufacturer Structure-flex had been contracted to make 7,000 stickers telling people to socially distance, washed their hands regularly and queue responsibly.
Lowestoft Vision, the town’s Business Improvement District, has introduced a package of support to help retailers prepare.
Its website provides businesses with template signage to print out and display to help with two-metre social distancing, including entrance and exit information and directional signs.
In Beccles, the town council has approved temporary traffic measures to ban vehicles from using part of New Market alongside a portion of either Blyburgate or Hungate, with streets expected to be used for outdoor seating.
Temporary one-systems and widened footways are also being created to ensure a distance of two-metres between pedestrians at all times.
County and district councillor Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, who helped draw up the plans, said they had been approved to “give businesses the confidence to open and people the confidence to come into town.”
Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) has distributed some 10,000 floor vinyls to more than 300 different businesses to help mark out socially-distances queueing systems, while it is also preparing free physical distancing resource packs.
These consist of footprint markers, arrows and a checklist setting our requirements and guidelines for safe opening.
Stefan Gurney, executive director of BID, said: “The approach we’re taking is to suggest people apply the same things they apply when they are driving to when they are walking around the city. That is, keep to the left, remember your distance and only overtake when there is ample room to do so.
“We have worked with the city, the county and the police and come up with his message of staying to the left. If everybody is heading in the same direction it is easier for everyone to keep apart.
“What we want most is to give people the confidence to come back into the city and make it safe and welcoming.”
Tom Payne, co-owner of Oh So Sweet confectionery store on White Lion Street, Norwich, which is opening tomorrow, said: “We are excited. I think the public might be nervous at first but once they see we are doing everything we can to be safe I think it will be OK. We can brings a bit of cheer in depressing times.”
- Make sure to support our new Love Local campaign, encouraging you to spend within our region and give the independent industry a vital boost.
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