The day has arrived: Highly-anticipated McArthurGlen outlet village opens in Cannock
The highly-anticipated McArthurGlen outlet village in Cannock was welcoming excited shoppers when it opened at 10am this morning.
The £160 million designer outlet at Mill Green boasts more than 40 designer stores, including brands such as Hobbs, Joules, Ted Baker, Guess, Police, Superdry, Adidas, Boss, Calvin Klein, Dune, Kurt Geiger, Levi's, Lindt, Gant, Phase Eight, Yankee Candle, Skechers, Under Armour and Radley.
Food outlets include Five Guys, Wagamama, Mac Daddy and Starbucks.
For those visiting by car, a team of parking marshals were on site to help improve traffic flows into the centre and around the car park. A large marquee was also set up at the main clock tower entrance to cover guests if they had to queue to enter.
Visitor numbers have been limited to a maximum of 2,100 at any one time to help follow social distancing rules.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic no opening day special discounts will be offered, and all events planned for open spaces have been cancelled this year. Nevertheless discounts and activities are planned further down the line.
Hand sanitisers will be provided throughout the centre, while bosses are increasing cleaning in public areas.
Shoppers are also asked to respect the Government's social distancing guidelines, while face coverings are mandatory in stores and in the centre unless medically exempt.
Customers are also asked to use contactless payments where possible.
The original September 2020 opening was moved to spring 2021 because of coronavirus, but the construction was completed on time. Nearby roads were ripped up and routes changed to accommodate the shopping centre, which was first given planning permission back in 2016.
About 7,500 people applied for jobs at the centre, 700 of which will be employed as of this week.
The centre will be open from 10am-8pm Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm Saturday and 10am-6pm on Sundays.
As non-essential shops reopened today, Boris Johnson urged the nation to "behave responsibly" as life took another step back towards normality, with indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos also welcoming customers.
Despite the relaxation in lockdown rules, social mixing indoors will remain heavily restricted, with around two in five adults yet to receive their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and the vast majority yet to get both.
The Prime Minister urged caution during the "major step forward" as a scientist advising the Government warned the rules must be followed to minimise a possible rebound in case numbers.
"I'm sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it's a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed," Mr Johnson said.
"I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember 'hands, face, space and fresh air' to suppress Covid as we push on with our vaccination programme."
The need for continued vigilance was underlined by former government chief scientific adviser Sir David King, who highlighted a surge in cases in Chile despite a successful vaccination campaign.