Like markets across the country, South Shields Market closed in March amid the coronavirus emergency.
As the Government eases lockdown measures, new guidance advises that outdoor markets should reopen if social distancing can be maintained.
South Tyneside Council has been examining how to reopen the market safely in accordance with the guidelines to help stop the spread of Covid-19 and ensure the health and safety of traders, shoppers and the market team.
Following a risk assessment, council bosses have now announced a new ‘socially distanced market’ will reopen on Saturday, June 13.
The layout of the market will be changed with stalls arranged in rows on the south side of the market square, in the space in front of The Word.
A new one-way system will be introduced with markers on the ground to help shoppers to stay two metres apart.
This will be supported by new signage, trader-only areas and hand sanitiser stations alongside marshals who will help advise and assist visitors to follow the new guidance.
The space between King Street and the Ferry Terminal will also be cleared to create a route for pedestrians crossing the Market Place.
Plea to support market traders
Lead Member for Regeneration and Economy on the council, Coun John Anglin, welcomed the move.
“We know that stall holders will be keen to return to the historic South Shields market, albeit a now socially distanced market,” he said.
“We are taking a cautious, measured approach to the Government’s easing of the lockdown and are implementing new systems and layout changes to make sure the market is safe for both traders and their customers.
“We would urge people to support our independent small businesses but to exercise patience and courtesy to fellow shoppers and traders.
“It is important that everyone continues to follow the rules to stay safe and always keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside of their household.
“As we start to welcome back traders and shoppers, we will be monitoring the situation very closely to make sure the site is running as safely as possible and look at what additional measures may be needed.
“While our priority must be safety, we are committed to doing all we can to support the market to bounce back from the impact of coronavirus and what has been a very difficult time for traders.”
The council is currently contacting traders to discuss the new measures to get the market operational again.
Measures for shops to follow
The traditional South Shields Market usually operates on Mondays and Saturdays, 9am to 4pm while the Flea Market runs on Fridays, from 9am to 4pm.
However, the Monday market will remain suspended at this time and will be considered in due course.
The reopening of the market is key element in the return of town centre shopping as the easing of lockdown restrictions sees more retail outlets resume trading.
Visitors must follow the social distancing rules and are urged to continue following Public Health England’s advice by practicing good hygiene, using hand sanitisers and washing their hands regularly.
Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus must not visit and should self-isolate at home.
Coun Anglin added: “South Shields Market is an important asset in the heart of the town and its return is a positive step towards the recovery of the area following the impact of Covid-19.
“We have already started work on a plan to support the high street and town centre in line with the planned reopening of non-essential shops from June 15 and more details on this will be announced soon.”
For more information about South Shields Market visit the council’s website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/market
Updates on the council services affected by coronavirus, as well as advice and support, can be found at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coronavirus