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Reopening Eden’s Town Centres

The Government has confirmed that from 15 June, shops classed as non-essential will be able to reopen in England.

High street retailers and department stores, including book shops, electronics retailers, tailors, auction houses, photography studios, indoor markets, and shops selling clothes, shoes and toys, will be allowed to open their doors again provided they follow the Covid-19 secure guidelines set out by the government in May.

Retailers will need to take certain steps to protect customers and staff, including limiting the number of customers allowed inside at one time, placing protective coverings on large items such as sofas which may be touched by passing shoppers, and frequently checking and cleaning touch points and surfaces.

Businesses should only reopen once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. Employers should also display a notice prominently in their shop windows or outside their store to show their employees, customers and other visitors that they are following the guidance.

The district, county and town councils, local community groups, chambers of trade as well as commerce and business improvement districts have been working together to plan for the safe reopening of Eden’s town centres.

Each of Eden’s four towns, Alston, Appleby, Kirkby Stephen and Penrith have been working on their own recovery and reopening preparations to ensure the town centres reopen safely and are able to welcome residents and visitors back after a number of months of being required to close.

The reopening plans focus on a range of measures such as any physical changes or signage that may be required to provide guidance on social distancing, marketing that the towns are reopening and ensuring that retailers and services have ready access to Government guidance on how to reopen safely to customers.

Cllr. Mary Robinson, Deputy Leader and Commercial Services Portfolio Holder for Eden District Council said: "The Government’s announcement allows our much loved town centres to commence trading again by opening their doors to the public. A number of businesses throughout the pandemic have either enhanced their online offer, started a delivery service or made other adaptations to ensure they could serve their loyal customers. The Government’s announcement now means that our town centres are able to welcome back customers who would normally access the shops and services in person albeit with additional safety measures in places."

Eden District Council has been assisting businesses in the run up to reopening of the Town Centres though the provision of advice and support through its environmental health team, who have been advising businesses on how to open safely and ensure they are adhering to the Covid-19 secure guidelines.

In addition, the council, alongside the county council, has been working with stakeholder groups to offer support and finance, provided by central government, to help town centres reopen safely by considering what public realm adaptations might be needed alongside marketing strategies to offer a warm welcome back.

Throughout Eden’s town centres, shoppers will be reminded to maintain social distancing and signage will be in place to reinforce this message.

To supplement Eden District Council’s supportive role in helping businesses reopen safely, the council will also carry out business checks and will take appropriate action, such as serving notices, if businesses are not complying with government guidelines.

Cllr. Robinson added: "We hope the role of the various organisations in partnership with businesses will provide confidence to residents and visitors that the town centres are open, safe and looking forward to having their customers return."

Cllr. David Whipp, Chairman of Cumbria County Council, Eden Local Committee, said: "I am delighted that our town centres are preparing to reopen for business - working in partnership with our district and town council colleagues has been an effective way to ensure that reopening our high streets and town centres can be done safely, whilst ensuring social distancing guidance is maintained. Further details regarding the proposed walking and cycling improvements will be available soon following feedback from the Department for Transport on the proposals submitted by the county council last week."

Penrith shoppers can visit www.penrithchamberoftrade.org.uk/coronavirus-update/ to find out which shops and businesses are trading, and how they will be serving their customers.