THE final touches are being made to new social distancing measures across Leicester city centre and its neighbourhoods as Leicester prepares for non-essential shops to re-open on Monday (15 June).
Leicester City Council and BID Leicester are supporting shops to ensure they can re-open safely.
Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming more people back into our city centre and neighbourhood shopping areas.
“Although many businesses have had to stay closed over the past 11 weeks, we have learned from the experience of the essential shops that have remained open, including our excellent market and food hall where social distancing measures have been in place throughout.
“I am therefore confident that we are ready to welcome back greater numbers of visitors, although I expect Monday to be just the beginning of the recovery process.
“The city centre and neighbourhood shopping areas have always been about more than great shops, and we look forward to our bars and restaurants and other venues opening in the very near future too.
“We have put in place a number of pop-up measures including wider pavements and cycle lanes as part of our transport recovery planning and we also have plans to assist businesses with their recovery.
“These include relaxing the policy on street café licences to make it easier for businesses to obtain or extend them.
“I am confident that people will enjoy their return to the city, and they can certainly be assured of a very warm welcome.”
Signage reminding people of social distancing measures is being installed across the city centre, and hand sanitising stations are being located in high footfall areas.
All businesses are being provided with the essential information they need to implement social distancing on, and outside their premises, along with materials such as floor vinyls to indicate safe places to stand, and checklists they can display to give customers confidence that guidelines have been followed.
The city council’s festivals and events team has provided guidance on queuing and is working with businesses in the city centre and neighbourhoods to ensure safe queuing on busy shopping streets.
BID Leicester street Ambassadors will be out and about as usual on Monday to welcome visitors and to provide advice to shoppers and businesses as needed.
Director of BID Leicester Simon Jenner said: “It’s a very welcome step to see Leicester city centre reopen. BID Leicester is here to help businesses taking measures to protect customers and staff, providing practical advice, materials such as floor vinyls and of course the presence of our Street Ambassador team.
“This situation is new ground for us all and it will take time for customers and businesses to adjust, but working together we will find the best possible solutions to ensure Leicester city centre is a safe and enjoyable for all who visit. Longer term, we are collaborating with city council and business partners to support the successful economic recovery of the city centre.” Businesses needing further guidance can contact the city council’s economic regeneration team at firstname.lastname@example.org
The city council is increasing its cleansing regime across shopping areas and is introducing a rolling programme of disinfecting street furniture and litter bins.
Bus and taxi companies are working with the council to ensure that safety measures are in place for those travelling into the city by public transport.
The park and ride service operating from Enderby and Meynell’s Gorse has resumed and new contactless payment systems are in place on the buses.
The council is also set to approve a temporary policy that will allow protective screens to be fitted in private hire taxis. These are already in place in hackney carriages.
People planning to visit the city should be aware that face coverings will be required on public transport from Monday 15 June.
Visitors can help to keep themselves and others to stay safe by remembering to wash or sanitise their hands regularly, staying two metres apart if not from the same household, and using contactless payments when shopping.
The re-opening of the city centre and neighbourhood shopping areas is part of a wider, phased city recovery plan being led by the city council that will see a range of facilities re-open across the city over the coming weeks.
These include the recycling centre at Freemens Common which opens on Monday 15 June, four multi-service hubs in communities, and two more children’s centres which open in July, (in addition to four already open). Preparations are also being made to re-open the night-time economy in the city centre.
More information on this will be published next week.