South Tyneside shoppers urged to back local stores as they reopen
South Tyneside shoppers are being urged to support local stores as they prepare to reopen their doors.
Many retailers will once again welcome customers back inside their premises on Monday as lockdown rules around the coronavirus pandemic are eased.
The Gazette is calling on people in the borough to show their support as part of our #SupportLocal campaign.
And the leader of South Tyneside Council, Coun Iain Malcolm, says such backing is needed more than ever.
He said: “South Tyneside’s business community has faced profound challenges over recent months.
“Now, more than ever, our local traders, particularly independent retailers, need the borough’s support to allow them to bounce back from this crisis.
“Shortly, non-essential shops will once again be able to open their doors to the public. We’ve been working behind the scenes to support them and ensure that people who want to return to the high street can do so safely, with appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures in place.
“Our high streets have taken a battering over recent years, thanks to out of town retail parks and internet shopping. This, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, means our local traders need a real boost.
“That’s why I’d encourage residents to shop local, and give our retailers the practical – and moral – support they so desperately need.
“We have some fantastic local businesses offering a wide range of products. Independent and small, specialist stores bring individuality and character to our high streets.”
The council has helped 2100 businesses access more than £24million in government grants to help them support cash flow and protect jobs.
Coun Malcolm added: “Our businesses, large and small, are the backbone of our ecomony and we need to help them through these extremely challenging times.
“Let’s show a little loyalty to our local retailers and help build sustainable, prosperous communities.”
Council staff have been working with retailers to help with social distancing guidance so that customers can shop with confidence.
A range of measures, including new signage, handwash and sanitiser stations will be in place in the borough’s main shopping areas.
Coun Malcolm added: “We want to make sure that people who want to return to the high street can do so with confidence.
“We are taking a cautious approach to the easing of lockdown and we’d ask shoppers and visitors to the high street to pay attention to the new measures in place to protect themselves and others.
“We know that the vast majority of people have been using common sense during the pandemic and we’d urge them to continue doing so if they plan to shop.
“While our absolute priority is safety, we are also acutely aware of the immense challenges our business community has had to face over recent months and we are committed to helping them bounce back and helping our local economy recover.”
Safety measures will initially be in place in South Shields town centre; Station Road, Hebburn; The Nook and Jarrow town centre.
The council has also been working with the owners of the Mountbatten shopping precinct in Hebburn and the Viking Centre in Jarrow, which are privately owned.
At The Nook and on Station Road, Hebburn, parking bays closest to the shops will be temporarily suspended to allow for the additional space required for social distancing.
Coun Malcolm said: “We have had to create extra room for pedestrians and for people to stand and queue, and in some areas this has meant we have had to remove some of the parking spaces.
“We appreciate this may cause some inconvenience, however, it is unavoidable if we are to accommodate safe social distancing.
“We thank people in advance for their cooperation and patience.”