Shoppers return to Letchworth town centre as stores reopen
PUBLISHED: 14:14 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:14 15 June 2020
Letchworth’s non-essential shops and businesses pulled up their shutters this morning as they welcomed customers for the first time in nearly three months.
Before 10am, long queues were already building outside favourite shops and stores, including David’s Bookshop – which has erected outside browsing stations to avoid overcrowding in the store.
Every business has taken steps to ensure it is ‘COVID secure’ with social distancing measures in place, and the Letchworth BID has made available hand sanitising stations, and floor stickers for waiting customers to stand by.
BID managing director Chris Wilson, said: “We are delighted to welcome shoppers back to the town after what’s been a tough few months. We have demonstrated unprecedented support, resilience and collaboration during lockdown.
“I want to encourage shoppers to visit our stores, and boost the local economy. The more money you spend in your local independent businesses, the more that stays in our community. Shop safely and keep your distance.”
Garden Square Shopping Centre officially reopened this morning with various safety measures in place.
A spokesperson said: “We understand the anxiety some may feel in regards to shopping again – but rest assured, we are doing everything we can to help people feel confident and safe when doing so.
“Protecting the health of our consumers, retailers and colleagues remains Garden Square’s priority. It is important to remember this is new for everyone and shopping will now take longer than normal. But by working together and adhering to the guidance provided, we can all shop safely.
The new measures at Garden Square include:
• Shoppers will be asked to keep to the left hand side and remain two metres apart from others at all times.
• A queuing system will be implemented when required, to control capacity at each entrance
• No groups of shoppers outside of family units and carers will be permitted in the centre.
• Queuing to enter the centre is only permitted on floor markers. If there isn’t any space, shoppers will be asked to return later.
• There will be no stopping on the malls except when queuing.
Garden House Hospice Care also reopened its high street charity stores this morning, as trading company chairman Steve Mellish said it was “great to be back after a long few months”.
Steve said: “Sales from our shops and eBay page make up a third of the money needed to provide hospice services to the communities of North Hertfordshire, Stevenage and surrounding towns.
“We never thought we’d have to close the doors to our hospice stores, and after a long few months of closures it’s great to be back!”
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Meanwhile, the Letchworth Heritage Foundation has made four of its car parks free until July 15 to encourage shoppers to return. Three hours of free parking will be available at the The Wynd, The Arena, Rowlands Way and Broadway Gardens car parks until July 15.
Foundation property director Mark Coles said: “This is just the beginning of a long road to recovery. The Letchworth Garden City community has given fantastic support to our independent businesses over the last three months. We hope everyone who can will come back into the town centre to support our local shops when they open their doors.
“Many of our tenants have shown great tenacity and an enterprising spirit during lockdown, by finding new ways of reaching their customers. We hope this spirit continues into the future and Letchworth becomes known for its brilliant selection of independent businesses.”
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