Everything you need to know about shops in Suffolk reopening today
PUBLISHED: 06:00 15 June 2020
Scores of shops in Suffolk are opening their doors today - but what are our towns and shopping centres doing to keep shoppers safe?
As lockdown eases, non-essential retail is being permitted to reopen. Here’s a look at efforts to woo back customers and make sure they can easily maintain social distancing and feel safe while shopping.
Shoppers are being advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces, including some shops where social distancing may be difficult. Face masks are also compulsory on public transport from today.
MORE - Tips for safer shopping
Ipswich town centre introducing ‘Keep Left’ signs
Many shops in Ipswich town centre are opening their doors from June 15, including Debenhams and Primark.
Many stores in the Sailmakers and Buttermarket shopping centres are also reopening from Monday, with more expected to follow.
The town centre has bright “Keep Left” and social distancing signs in place to guide pedestrians, and Upper Brook Street will be closed to traffic from 10.30am to 4.30pm daily.
It is expected that limited numbers will be allowed in each shop at one time. Some shops will have one-way systems in place.
To make parking easier for shoppers, the Crown car park will reopen on Monday, and parking will be free for all vehicles for a maximum of five hours until July 3.
The main toilets in Sailmakers and the Buttermarket will be closed for now due to social distancing requirements, but the borough council has agreed to open its toilets in the Corn Exchange for shoppers to use, and those at Major’s Corner have already reopened.
Outside the town centre, John Lewis is preparing to reopen on Thursday, June 18.
MORE - What changes are being made to Ipswich town centre?
Bury St Edmunds introducing range of measures
A whole raft of measures are being put in place as shoppers return from June 15, including social distancing markers on pavements, signs and hand sanitiser stations.
Individual businesses have been busy finalising signage and social distancing measures at their stores, while West Suffolk Council, the BID (Business Improvement District) group and Arc shopping centre management have all been working to make sure it is as safe as possible for workers and shoppers.
Arc Shopping Centre has installed signs across the centre and hand sanitiser stations at all entrances and many centre staff will be wearing face masks and gloves.
Arc’s public toilets will remain closed initially, but this will be kept under review.
MORE - What does Bury St Edmunds town centre look like ahead of reopening?
Felixstowe may soon close part of town centre to traffic
Visitors to Felixstowe are being asked to cycle or walk if possible, or, if arriving by car, to park in the nearest available car park, as there will be restricted on-street parking availability.
As more stores in the resort reopen, it is expected that part of the town centre will soon be closed to traffic, a move which is proving controversial.
The shared-space section of Hamilton Road is set to be closed in order to allow queuing outside businesses and maintain social distancing. However, consultation is ongoing and the road closure will not come into force immediately.
Town council officials have been in talks with East Suffolk and believe Felixstowe could get up to £25,000 of grant aid to help with signage, traffic and other temporary measures.
MORE - Road closure to allow stores to reopen branded as ‘crazy’
Woodbridge independents set to woo customers back
Shoppers are keen to get back to Woodbridge’s array of independent shops, with almost 90% of those in a survey carried out by business and tourism association Choose Woodbridge having said they want to shop near home.
The shops will be sticking close to the safe shopping guidelines. James Lightfoot, chairman of Choose Woodbridge, said: “Choose Woodbridge is working closely with all businesses and we know that every single one is working very hard to adhere to all the guidelines to keep shoppers safe while in town.”
Stowmarket introduces respect zones
Like Ipswich, Stowmarket is asking shoppers to “Keep Left”. They are also being asked to observe “respect zones” outside the town’s busiest shops, with signage and pavement markings expected to be introduced.
Stowmarket has launched its own Safe Shopping Scheme, with 12 information panels having been installed. These display key instructions, such as staying two-metres apart and wearing face masks where social distancing might not be possible.
In the nearby area, Stonham Barns Park is reopening as a Covid-19 secure retail centre on Monday, with all touch points around the site being regularly sanitised and disinfected, and seven large sanitising stations in place.
Nearly all the park’s retailers will be open, and its adventure golf course, football golf and fishing lakes are all reopening.
MORE - New ‘respect zones’ outside busy stores as shoppers return
Sudbury’s pavements marked with stencils and paint
Known for its range of independent and unique shops, Sudbury has been busy preparing for non-essential retail to reopen.
Social distancing measures have been put in place by Sudbury Community Wardens, including markings on the street and informative noticeboards, detailing measures that need to be taken to stay safe.
Pavements have been marked with stencils and paint outside most shops to make it easy to keep to the two-metre distance.
Winch & Blatch is opening all four of its shops from June 15, with hand sanitising stations at each main entrance, 2m markers on the floors and Perspex screens at every till. The cafe, fitting rooms and customer toilets will all be closed.
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