BASILDON Council is encouraging people to shop local and shop safe as customers return to support High Street businesses this summer as part of the new phase of the Covid-19 response.

From today (June 15) onwards, the council is supporting new ways of shopping, designed to look out for the well-being of shoppers during the reopening of high street retailers.

Basildon Council leader, Cllr Gavin Callaghan, is highlighting how important it is to remain safe while supporting our local economy and retailers – while also embracing the best of Basildon.

Halstead Gazette:

Re-opened - Wickford is open for business

“I’ve held several rounds of consultation with retailers in recent weeks – and we are committed to helping businesses and public transition to this new way of shopping. In our meetings many retailers have said to me that customers have been understanding and kind during the click-and-collect only phase of lockdown and that’s been really encouraging.

“We are all new at navigating through this pandemic and I know that retailers are working hard and trying their best to restart their businesses in a safe way. As we support retailers more in person again, understanding, patience and simple kindness can help as we all learn how to operate in this changed world.”

The changes include new marking and signage for shopping areas, with support from teams of council staff to help shoppers navigate changes in pedestrian flows and queuing in particular. The council is also working with businesses to help them get prepared to be Covid-19 safe during reopening and shops will look different to meet the guidelines when they reopen.

Halstead Gazette:

There will be limits on the number of customers in each shop, with markings inside and outside the shops, queueing systems and some stores will have protection panels. You may be asked to use contactless payments wherever possible to avoid needing to exchange cash. And as a thread through our new normal we’re asking people to please be kind as we come back into socially distanced contact on a regular basis.

That’s why the Shop Local, Shop Safe campaign is asking everyone to follow five simple points to make High Streets safe and easy for everyone to navigate:

1) Maintain social distancing

2) Be patient when queueing

3) Avoid shopping at peak times

4) Keep your hands as clean as possible

5) If you can, wear a face mask

'Safety is the key'

ONCE the Government announced at the end of May that all non-essential shops were permitted to re-open from today (Monday, June 15), Basildon Council was mindful there would be challenges in the further re-opening of our high streets.

Ahead of putting in place any plans, the council was keen to engage with as many of our high street and town centre retailers early on, to hear directly what would be the main challenges for their business and how the council could support them.

Over the last few weeks, a series of Zoom meetings have taken place involving around 40 retailers from across Basildon town Centre, Billericay and Wickford High Streets.

Last week, the virtual meetings focused on Billericay and Wickford High Streets to consult with retailers on the proposed measures to be put in place in order to re-open our high streets in the safest possible way with the opportunity for them to ask any questions.

Discussions were around vehicle access and movements, proposed pedestrian flows, social distancing measures, signage, queue management, plus the available support and guidance for retail businesses.

Over the coming weeks, the council will continue to engage with our high street retailers to ensure new measures are working and get their feedback.