Arun District Council and other organisations are assisting retailers and shoppers with new measures on the high street.
From Monday (June 15), more shops will be able to open as the government eases the coronavirus lockdown and the country continues to work towards recovery.
Retailers selling non-essential items including clothes, toys, furniture, books, buckets and spades and jewellery, will be able to open again, as long as the government’s five tests are met, and they follow the Covid-19 secure guidelines.
Social distancing will still be necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and retailers are required to adapt to new legislation around social distancing and hygiene standards.
Due to the safety measures, queues are to be expected so shoppers are urged to be patient and respectful as everyone adapts to a different way of operating.
Arun District Council and partners including Bognor Regis BID and the town councils, are assisting retailers and shoppers by introducing new measures on the high streets, shopping parades and promenades. They include:
- Banners announcing the town centres are open and to stay safe
- Community Wardens to assist customers and businesses
- Social distance signage on pavements and walkways
- Some public seating taped off in queue “hotspots”
- Limits for queues and requests to come back later
Cllr Dr James Walsh, leader of Arun District Council and cabinet member for economy said: “Our message is that this is a careful and controlled return to retail – please be prepared to queue and to carefully follow social distancing directions put in place to keep everyone safe.
“We’re doing everything we can to support retailers as they work through the guidelines and take responsibility for making their businesses safe for shoppers and staff. However, this is more a case of ‘business as unusual’ than ‘business as usual’ so please bear with us as we all work together to get our shops back up and running.
“People still need to remember that the government advice is to stay at home as much as possible and to only make essential journeys; the safety of everyone still remains our number one priority.”
Bognor Regis BID chairman, Jason Passingham added: “We’re really pleased that non-essential retailers are able to reopen their doors on June 15, but fully aware that not every business is in that position yet. Our main priority is everyone’s safety, so we’re taking a cautious approach to the first phase of businesses reopening to make sure the second phase can go ahead at the earliest opportunity.
“We know that businesses have been working hard to make their premises ‘covid-19 secure’, and we’ve been supporting them by making sure they have access to the information they need to do that. We’ve also been working closely with the agencies involved in the management of Bognor Regis town centre to help prepare for more businesses reopening and more people visiting.
“We would like to ask everyone to be patient when they come into town – businesses have taken a lot of care in their preparations, but it probably won’t be perfect from the outset. There’s often a difference between plans on paper and plans in practice, and this will be tested as more businesses start to reopen, and more people come into town. So, while we all get used to the new systems, please be patient, and please be kind – kind to the staff trying to make things run as safely and smoothly as possible, and kind to your queue buddies.”
The work will be aided by a £143,718 government grant from the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, launched recently to help councils to support businesses as they re-open. The funding is from the European Regional Development Fund via the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.