Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, confirmed that as of Monday 15th June, all non-essential shops, including high street retailers and department stores, will be able to reopen provided they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines set out by government in May. He also said pubs, bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not be able to reopen until 4 July “at the earliest”.
Earlier this week, the council announced plans for a phased reopening of Leigh and Wigan indoor market halls from 15 June, in line with social distancing measures. The Galleries Shopping Centre in Wigan will also reopen from Monday, though the toilets will remain closed.
As part of this latest announcement, retailers will need to take certain steps to protect customers and staff, including limiting the number of customers allowed inside at one time, placing protective coverings on large items, such as sofas and frequently checking and cleaning objects and surfaces.
The Leader of Wigan Council, Councillor David Molyneux, said:
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a few essential businesses have continued to operate and have made their own arrangements to ensure customers are able to adhere to the 2-metre distancing rule.
“So far this has worked well. However, as more businesses start to reopen along our high street’s we envisage this may become more difficult to manage safely, which is why we’re urging businesses to follow the guidelines, to ensure we can create a safe and welcoming environment for customers.”
Wigan Council has written to businesses in Wigan and Leigh providing advice and guidance ahead of next week.
The advice includes a number of measures that traders can put in place to manage the 2-metre social distancing guidelines to ensure the safety of customers and staff, including signage that is being made available to print and install.
Visitors to the town centres will continue to benefit from free weekend parking on council car parks until March 2021. Parking for NHS staff and key workers remains free and the local authority is continuing conversations with health partners to see how this offer can continue once the pay and display car parks reopen.
Measures to make the town centres safer for pedestrians and cyclists to access will also be implemented this week, following the council’s commitment to support the regional #StaySafeSaveLives campaign. This includes:
• Temporarily extending the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) pedestrian zone times in Wigan and Leigh town centres from 10:30am – 4pm to 9am – 5pm to help walking and cycling movements and to enable social distancing outside businesses.
• Introducing 20mph speed limits on some Wigan town centre roads including Standishgate, Market Street, Millgate, Crompton Street and Mesnes Street.
• Extending the operating times of the bus lane on Leigh Road from peak hour to 24/7.
Businesses can find out more about reopening safely, here: www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19 and can request artwork by emailing [email protected]