Shropshire shopping centres keen to see their customers back

The operators of Shropshire's main shopping centres have outlined their plans to welcome back customers from April 12.

Telford Centre manager Glynn Morris
Telford Centre manager Glynn Morris

When the Prime Minister's roadmap out of lockdown finally reaches step 2, dozens of non-essential retailers will man their shops for the first time since the beginning of January.

Described by some as a period of "hibernation", it is hoped England's third lockdown will be the final one as case numbers continue to decline and it becomes safe to re-enter the county's bustling high streets.

Shrewsbury's Pride Hill and Darwin shopping centres, run by Shropshire Council, will join Telford Shopping Centre, managed by Glynn Morrow, in opening their doors fully as restrictions ease further.

But despite the welcome return to some form of normality, customers can expect a different shopping experience, as many Covid measures remain in place to keep tenants, staff and visitors safe.

In Shrewsbury, set measures will be in place throughout the centres, and individual shops may also have specific requirements.

Kevin Lockwood, Shropshire Council's shopping centres manager, said people will be asked to shop alone where possible.

"We're looking forward to welcoming customers and some of our retailers back to the centres, however the health and safety of our tenants, staff and visitors will, as always, be our top priority," he said.

Key dates - the Government's roadmap out of lockdown

"In line with government guidelines, social distancing signs are still in place throughout the centres to remind people to stay at least two metres apart, hand sanitiser stations also remain throughout the centres. including on the entrances and exits, and we'll be cleaning the centres – especially all the touch points – on a regular basis."

Visitor capacity will be reduced to help make social distancing and other safety measures manageable.

Mr Lockwood added: "We ask people to continue to keep their distance, keep their hands clean, to shop alone if possible, and to use the escalators rather than the lifts if they are able to. And, before entering individual stores, we want to remind people to check their specific safety guidance.

Kevin Lockwood, Shropshire Council's shopping centres manager

"Once the centres open we’ll be monitoring the number of customers as we will be working to reduced occupancy levels to enable us to follow the guidelines.

"Our message is please come and visit us and our tenants, but please do so safely and in line with the latest Government guidance – and please remember our team is always on hand to provide any assistance that maybe needed."

Staff at the zero waste shop Green Options, in the Darwin Centre, said lockdown had been a "kind of hibernation".

They said: "We are currently open, but very much looking forward to increasing footfall and going back to normal hours, as well as getting the household and lifestyle areas back on track after a kind of hibernation for the past lockdown."

Meanwhile, staff at Telford Shopping Centre have been arranging similar measures to ensure the safety of tenants and visitors.

Manager Glynn Morrow said they were delighted at the prospect of being able to welcome customers back.

He said: “It’s going to be great to be back, fully open again from April 12. We know our customers just want to get back in store and discover the latest styles first-hand and our line-up of stores makes that easy.

“While many of our competitors have stood still our £50m investment programme has meant we have continued to open new stores with bigger ranges, and we are confident we will have more to announce over the coming months.

“Add to that the 3,000 parking spaces and we are expecting to continue to outperform.”

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