Shoppers are being urged to be prepared for a different way of shopping when many stores across St Helens Borough reopen from next Monday.
The Government will allow non-essential shops to open their doors again from June 15 to customers, although each shop will have to operate under the current social distancing guidelines.
Councillor Richard McCauley, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Housing, said: “People should be prepared for a vastly different experience if they choose to visit shopping areas around our borough when stores reopen next week. The vast majority of residents have done an incredible job of staying at home and only travelling for essential reasons over the last few months, and while it is important to make sure we are supporting our local economy, it’s also important to think about managing people’s health too through this pandemic. For many shopping is a social activity but we’d urge people to see it just now as a means to buying what is needed.
“Social distancing has a huge impact on how many people are allowed inside a store so please be patient, be kind to the staff who are there to help keep you safe and be prepared to follow guidance such as one-way systems in shopping centres and stores. One day, hopefully soon, shopping can return to being an opportunity to catch up with friends and socialise as well as shopping.”
Due to the difficulties in being able to provide appropriate social distancing at this moment in time, and with no legal duty to provide them, public toilets will not be a available in St Helens and Earlestown town centres although this will be kept under close review as we understand this could cause issues for some people. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitiser for good hand hygiene during their shopping trip.
Shoppers are being encouraged to plan ahead of their journey and take into account these essential points:
- Check the shops you want to visit are open and whether they have any restrictions by checking online.
- Plan how you will get to them – the public are advised to walk, cycle or use a car rather than public transport if possible.
- All car parks are open across St Helens Borough except multi-storey car parks in St Helens Town Centre so plan where to park.
- Prepare to take your own hand sanitiser, face covering, an umbrella in case you have to queue outside and if possible a card for contact payments.
- No public toilets are currently open in St Helens and Earlestown town centres.
- Cafes and restaurants that are open will only be offering takeaway service.
- You might have to queue to visit every store so please allow extra time for your trip.
The open air markets at Earlestown on Friday and the St Helens Town Centre open air markets on Tuesdays and Thursdays have opened with a reduced number of traders and some stallholders at St Mary’s Market will also reopen from Monday.
Councillor McCauley added: “We have been supporting businesses affected by coronavirus by giving them advice, paying grants to support them through closure and supporting those who can to diversify. Our council officers have been busy providing businesses with guidance whether that is licence changes, risk assessments or financial support. St Helens is Open is our portal for people to find out what local businesses are offering and we can all play a part in helping our businesses reopening by understanding they might be operating in a different way and being supportive of them as they adapt.”
To find out more about businesses reopening and diversifying visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/sthelensisopen.