City Council Leader Phil Bialyk has welcomed people back into the city as a number of restaurants and bars open up for the first time since ‘lockdown’.
But the Leader has urged people to be sensible and vigilant in an attempt to stop a second wave, as well as be patient, as some businesses are not ready to open.
The City Council has been at the heart of work to ensure the city centre returns to some form of normality following the pandemic.
The Council has been working with partners in the public and private sector as part of a City Centre Recovery Group which has already seen dozens of shops in the heart of Exeter reopen last month.
“Saturday is the next step and I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome people coming back into Exeter for a meal or a drink,” said Cllr Bialyk.
He said that the city centre was crucial to Exeter’s economy and building back the recovery.
“However, we want to do this safely and are doing everything possible to make sure that everyone has a safe and pleasant experience when coming into Exeter city centre.”
People are being urged to follow government guidance and respect social distancing measures. From Saturday, people are expected to keep a distance of 1m+ from each other.
Early indications are that a number of pubs and restaurants in the city centre will re-open on Saturday, with others not yet ready to do business.
“My advice would be to check with the restaurant or bar rather than assume it will be open. A lot of preparation has to go into getting these businesses up and running and COVID-safe,” said Cllr Bialyk.
“Not every business will open on Saturday and sadly not every business will open in the near future. That is their decision and we have got to respect that,” he added.
The City Centre Recovery Group is led by the City Council and its partners, including Exeter BID, Exeter Chamber of Commerce and Exeter College.
John Laramy, Principle of Exeter College and Chair of the City Centre Recovery Group, said: “It has been a real privilege to play a small part in getting the City we all care about, ‘back to business’.
“I have been hugely impressed by the way that everyone has pulled together to create a safe, welcoming and attractive environment – I, like many people, am really looking forward to shopping and eating in Exeter once again!” he added.
Temporary and permanent measures and changes have been put in place to ensure the city centre remains a vibrant place to live, work, socialise, visit, shop and work.
Stencils have been marked outside shops and throughout the City Centre, and although the guidance has now changed to 1m+, people are still expected to keep social distancing. One-way systems have been implemented in some narrow streets, which is being supported by the European Regional Development Fund.
The Recovery Group is part of the overall Recovery Plan being led by the Liveable Exeter Place Board.
Work is taking place in seven key areas:
• Business Support
• City Centre
• Culture and Visitor Economy
• Construction and Development
• Community Wellbeing
More information on support for businesses in available on the City Council’s website https://exeter.gov.uk/clean-safe-city/community-safety/coronavirus/business-and-employers
The Welcome Back project has received funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding