Last week it was confirmed by the Government that all non-essential shops would be able to reopen today, if they can put in place appropriate social distancing measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.
This means clothes shops and department stores, as well as everything from book stores and electronics suppliers to tailors, indoor markets and photography studios, can welcome customers back through their doors.
And today The Star – in conjunction with its sister titles across the JPIMedia group – is launching a new campaign called Time To Support Local, aimed at making sure economies like Sheffield’s recover properly from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Locally, these efforts are being supported by the Sheffield BID, or business improvement district, which is funded by a levy on firms and aims to make the city centre more attractive and vibrant.
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Diane Jarvis, the Sheffield BID’s manager, said the Government’s announcement provided ‘much-needed clarity’.
“This will be a time when we must work together to employ social distancing measures which could continue for several weeks, if not months. We must create an environment that is safe and welcoming and which all visitors feel able to use confidently, while respecting specific measures that have been described as the new norm.”
The BID team has been working closely with the council, South Yorkshire Police and other partners on the logistics involved in carefully reviving the city centre – for instance, two-metre distance markings will be visible on Fargate and The Moor.
“The reopening will see the city draw on its experience of hosting major events, with partners sharing knowledge and expertise to ensure the safety of shoppers and staff,” said Ms Jarvis.
“We expect there will be a few teething problems, but everyone involved is 100 per cent committed to making the much-needed changes to ensure the city centre can get back to business.
“Ideally the return to the city centre will be gradual. We need people to come back in a measured way. We urge people to plan their visit, check in advance that the stores they want to go to are open, and above all be patient and responsible.
“Our city centre will look different for a while but it is important that everyone continues supporting local businesses as much as possible.”
One of the biggest names making a comeback in Sheffield on Monday is Atkinsons, the city’s last remaining independent department store with a history that spans 150 years.
Its 75,000 sq ft premises will reopen at 9.30am – and the anti-Covid precautions planned there are broadly in line with what customers can expect elsewhere.
Atkinsons’ toilets and baby changing facilities will be closed, along with its restaurants and fitting rooms, while a one-way system will be in operation along the aisles.
The car park will be open, ‘cough screens’ are being installed at tills, staff are likely to be wearing protective gear and sanitiser will be available. The number of customers allowed in the store at any one time will also be limited.
“We hope these measures won’t inconvenience you, and they will be very much like those you have come to expect when visiting the supermarket,” Atkinsons said.
Trading again with masks, gloves and extra cleaning
Shops of all kinds are returning in Sheffield – including an award-winning independent food retailer which is opening its premises for the first time in over two months.
Beanies Wholefoods, on the corner of Crookesmoor Road and Barber Road, has been running a collection and delivery service of its popular veg boxes after closing to the public just after lockdown was imposed in March.
But on Saturday, June 13, the shop will be back with social distancing measures in place. Opening hours will be 10am to 4pm, from Tuesday to Thursday and at weekends, and 10am to 8pm on Friday. On Mondays the shop will remain shut, with only collections offered.
Numbers will be limited to a maximum of five customers in the shop at any one time, and people are reminded to ‘wash their fruit and veg before eating’.
Another shop trading again next week with safety firmly in mind is Kelham Island Books & Music, a treasure trove of literature and records near to the Shalesmoor roundabout, which plans to reopen at midday on Wednesday, June 17.
Free disposable masks and gloves are being provided to visitors on entry.