New ‘respect zones’ outside busy stores as shoppers return to town
Shoppers are being asked to “keep left” and observe “respect zones” outside Stowmarket’s busiest stores as the town centre reopens for the first time in weeks.
Non-essential retail stores can reopen on Monday, June 15 following several weeks of lockdown.
Stores and town centres across Suffolk have been at hard work finalising measures to ensure they are “Covid-secure”, in line with government regulations.
Stowmarket has launched its own Safe Shopping Scheme, with 12 information panels installed displaying key instructions, such as staying two-metres apart and wearing face masks where social distancing might not be possible.
In a letter hand-delivered to all traders, Stowmarket mayor Paul Ekpenyong and Stowmarket Vision chairman Gerard Brewster said: “Initially, we intend to focus upon safety measures in the high street outside business premises, including queueing arrangements outside the most visited stores, and managing how people pass these queues.”
The busiest premises where the town will seek to manage social distancing are Barclays Bank, Greggs, QD Stores, Stowmarket Stores/Post Office, Subway and Superdrug.
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“It is proposed that in consultation with the respective business owners, signage and pavement markings will be introduced outside these premises encouraging the public to be aware of others and how they can help respect the requirements for social distancing,” Mr Ekpenyong and Mr Brewster said.
“We are aware that ‘Shop Safe Stay Left’ and similar initiatives have been used successfully in other towns and there will be notices introduced in Stowmarket town centre asking pedestrians to stay to the left.”
The pair said that a one-way system is not being introduced - but said: “Further measures in Stowmarket town centre may be considered in response to changing circumstances.
“We will keep the situation under review and ensure that we are aware of the views of local businesses if any significant new measures are being contemplated.”
They said that business owners have a “clear role to play”, for example by ensuring there is clear signage within their stores and good systems in place for managing queues.
“We would like to thank businesses for the positive conversations that they have had with town council staff in recent days over the re-opening of their premises,” Mr Ekpenyong and Mr Brewster said.
“In the current exceptional circumstances, it is vitally important that the public’s perception of Stowmarket town centre is that it is a safe place to visit.”
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