Lancaster shoppers urged to 'stay local and shop local' as businesses prepare to re-open

Lancaster shoppers are being urged to support local traders as more and more shops begin to open their doors in the coming weeks.

By Nick Lakin
Thursday, 11th June 2020, 7:00 am

Many non-essential businesses will begin to reopen on Monday, June 15 – so long as they can meet the government social distancing guidelines.

And today the Lancaster Guardian is pledging its support for local traders by launching a ‘Time to...#support local’ campaign.

Our plea is backed up by Lancaster BID’s Tony Johnson who this week said: “This is something Lancaster BID echoes.

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Market Street in Lancaster, pre-Covid-19.

"The important thing about this message is make sure you stay safe whilst staying local.

“I think and hope that local people will have had a lot of time to reflect over the last 12 weeks and I’m sure they all realise what a great city we live in – now let’s truly support the businesses of the city by ‘shopping local’.”

Lancaster City Council has also released guidance on how businesses can ensure they re-open safely.

The council has developed a package of measures so business owners have the confidence to reopen in a manner that is safe not only for customers, but for their staff and themselves.

It has uploaded a collection of documents to its website on the safety measures that need to be in place, including guidance on queue management and a coronavirus risk assessment.

There are also details of grants on offer, general business support and specific advice for food businesses.

Meanwhile, Lancaster Business Improvement District (BID) manager Tony Johnson is urging people to "Stay Local Shop Local" with a campaign to encourage Lancaster residents to support traders in the city as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.

There are many questions and mixed emotions, he said, about how busy the city will be, whether people will abide by the rules, and whether businesses are able to operate successfully in light of the "new normal".

He said: "As a lot of businesses prepare to open their doors for the first time next week there are all sorts of emotions going on.

"On the whole the people I’ve talked to can’t wait to open their doors, but for obvious reasons they do have concerns.

"How busy will the city be?

"Will people abide by the rules?

"Will I be able to run my business successfully with all the rules and guidelines in place?

"These questions will only be answered next week when we enter the 'new normal'."

A series of measures and rescue packages were announced by the government for businesses and self employed people at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic back in March.

Some businesses have been able to continue trading, but most have had to furlough staff and shut their doors for at least 10 weeks.

Now that restrictions have been eased, business owners will need to work out how best they can trade based on the conditions they face in their premises.

Lancaster City Council reintroduced parking charges in all its car parks from June 8.

It waived charges back in March to help those needing to make essential journeys, but said the suspension would cost it around £600,000.

Two metre social distancing rules will still be in place, and businesses will have to adopt practices that restrict the numbers of people allowed into their premises at any one time.

Mr Johnson added: "I’ve said it many times over the years having worked/known the businesses community of Lancaster for over 20 years - they are all so resilient and passionate about making sure Lancaster comes out of the other side of this.

"This is something Lancaster BID echos and we want everyone to support our “Stay Local Shop Local” campaign, the important thing about this message is make sure you stay safe whilst staying local."I think/hope that local people will have had a lot of time to reflect over the last 12 weeks and I’m sure they all realise what a great city we live in, now lets truly support the businesses of the city by shopping local."

Lancaster City Council officers will also be out and about from next week, visiting businesses to gather contact information and carry out a brief “health check” to see how they are coping and to offer specific advice.

Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox, cabinet member with responsibility for sustainable economic prosperity, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on retailers and the business community as a whole.

“With more now preparing to open we want to be able to support them to do so in a way that ensures everyone remains safe. We've had a number of discussions with the Lancaster and Morecambe Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) about re-opening and the council has access to limited external funding to pay for measures that enable safe trading in public places."

Discussions are also ongoing with traders on Lancaster’s Charter Market as to how it can reopen safely, taking into account the government’s current guidelines, with the ambition to get it up and running as soon as possible.

The advice and guidance for businesses can be found on the city council’s website at Lancaster.gov.uk/coronavirus or by contacting [email protected]