Preparations are well underway to help ensure Exeter city centre is safe and welcoming when many stores reopen their doors next week.
On Monday 15 June non-essential retailers will be allowed to reopen for the first time since the end of March, once they have completed a risk assessment. Hospitality businesses like cafes and restaurants can reopen from 4 July.
Temporary and permanent measures and changes are required to ensure the city centre remains a vibrant place to live, work, socialise, visit, shop and work.
Social distancing measures must be in place to ensure the safety of shoppers. Stencils will be marked outside shops and throughout the City Centre, signs will be put up to help people keep two-metres apart and some narrow streets will operate a one way system.
Temporary signage will support social distancing across the city centre as well as in the neighbourhood Centres of Topsham, the Quay and Piazza Terracina, Heavitree, Cowick Street and Magdalen Road.
Stores will limit the number of customers inside to allow two metre social distancing to be followed. Markings may be placed outside stores to assist with the spacing of queues.
City Council Leader Phil Bialyk said: “The City Centre is crucial for Exeter, and we want to do everything we can to make sure everyone using it has a safe and pleasant experience.
“It is good news that more shops are starting to reopen, and I know that a lot of work is taking place among a lot of different organisations working in partnership to welcome people back safely.”
It is not yet clear how many stores will reopen on June 15. Some larger stores, as well as some independents, have indicated a phased return to reopening.
The city centre preparations are being coordinated by the City Centre Recovery Group, 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: “I am delighted that Exeter City Council has taken its first step towards the city centre reopening and the establishment of what will be a new normal, for a while at least.
“Exeter is a retail and visitor destination of choice; therefore it has been a real priority get the city open again, safely, with outdoor social spaces and in line with the current Government guidance. I would like to thank everyone who has supported this endeavour – we truly are ‘stronger together’.”
The City Centre Recovery Group aims to safely reopen the City Centre to support workers, shoppers, students, visitors and bring investment back into Exeter, to Build Back Better.
As a result of implementing the City Centre Recovery Plan, and working with other city recovery plans, the Recovery Group aims to achieve:
• A safe re-opening of the city centre
• A steady return to sustainable footfall levels
• Vacancy rates remain stable
• An increase in active travel modes, when travelling into the city centre
• Dwell time returns to sustainable levels
The work is part of the Recovery Plan being led by the Liveable Exeter Place Board.
A recovery plan for the city was unanimously approved by the Council’s Executive last week and sets out the steps needed to support a co-ordinated response to the challenges the local economy will face over the coming weeks, months and beyond.
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