England’s cautious lifting of Covid restrictions continues
In line with Boris Johnson’s roadmap for a cautious lifting of coronavirus restrictions high streets across England saw a reopening of non-essential shops today. Cafes, restaurants and pubs are now allowed to serve drinks and meals outdoors as long as social distancing and hand hygiene protocols are observed. This is in line with the new guidelines which mean up to 6 people or 2 households can meet outside.
Remarkable reopening in Chichester
At 8am this morning in Chichester, West Sussex crowds gathered in the city centre despite freezing temperatures and snow showers.
“There was a queue of 60 customers at 8am this morning, it was a bit of a shock.” said an assistant at the largest department store in Chichester T K Maxx.
There were also long lines outside Next this morning as local residents flocked to be the first to see the mid-season sale items on display.
Many retailers in the historic centre including charity shops and coffee shops were delighted to be opening their doors and busy once again and there were high spirits and a buzz around town this afternoon. The atmosphere was boosted by upbeat musical buskers. As the day progressed the warm sunshine made the outdoors only refreshments an enjoyable experience for folk of all ages. It was great to see the cafe culture thriving in the medieval streets again.
New Shop Safety Guidelines Launched
Marks & Spencer contacted all their M&S regulars this morning to remind them of the shop safely guidelines which were also observed by all the other organisations we visited:
Face – wear a face covering
Distance – keep at least 2 mentres from others
Sanitise – sanitise and wash hands often
Avoid Groups – shop alone whenever possible
Be Kind – be considerate to eachother and our colleagues
Not Quite Changing Rooms
“Customer toilets will be open and you can get takeaways from our in-store cafés. The changing rooms remain closed for now.” The fitting rooms are understandably challenging to run given the way that Covid-19 can easily spread through close contact and particles in the air. However many men and women are keen to be able to use this facility when shopping for ladieswear, menswear and childrenswear as this is one of the main benefits of choosing to purchase clothes, shoes and underwear in a physical store.
It can save time to be able to select the right size, colour and style of apparel and accessories in one visit. This is because it avoids the disappointment of sending merchandise back by post if it is incorrect of unsuitable, possibly a few times before finding the perfect piece for any individual or family member.
Notable absences in the centre
For many locals and key workers the event was bitter sweet. There are several closed and empty stores on the main roads where businesses like Monsoon, House of Fraser, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Top Shop were very obviously missing from the usual big brand favourites.
Cautious optimism on trend for this summer
A full list of the different types of enterprises that are now allowed to trade again can be found on the official government website (2)
This change in the guidance is Step 2 on Boris Johnson’s roadmap to gradually returning to a new normal in England. Part 3 is the next significant stage. This will happen on or after the 17th May if all continues to go to plan. There are key criteria that need to be met including keeping the demand for the NHS and other providers services manageable and the continuation of the impressive Covid-19 vaccination program roll out.
As 5:30pm drew closer shop and cafe managers and their teams all across the city said they were happy, tired, relieved and grateful that the reopening of their venues had gone as well as any of them hoped. This chilly Monday in April will be a memorable day for Chichester residents. Today’s sale figures bode well for a gradual return to a prosperous commercial community full of residents, students and tourists who love to meet, shop, socialise and relax in this picturesque metropolitan area.
(1) T.K.Maxx ‘Safety remains a priority’ 12 April 2021 ‘Safety remains a priority’ T.K.Maxx
(2) Marks and Spencer Covid-19 guidelines, 12 April 2021 Marks and Spencer Covid-19 guidelines
(3) ‘Reopening businesses and venues’ Gov UK Cabinet Office, 12 April 2021 (2) ‘Reopening businesses and venues’ Gov UK Cabinet Office