Residents urged to shop local as businesses reopen

Broad Street in Lyme Regis has been quiet during the lockdown period

LYME Regis residents are being encouraged to shop local as hight streets across the country reopen for business.

Most shops across the county have been closed since the government introduced lockdown measures in order to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Now that restrictions have started to be relaxed, shoppers are able to return to their local high streets as of today as non-essential shops are given the go ahead to reopen. This is vital for shop owners who need local residents to help get their businesses back on track by shopping locally.

Cllr Gary Suttle, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Economic Growth and Skills, said: “By staying local we can continue to limit the spread of COVID-19, and by shopping local we can ensure that our local high-street shops are able to get back on their feet.

“This is a crucial time for local business-owners who want to welcome shoppers back while ensuring that their customers stay safe. By councils working together with businesses and their customers, we can maintain public health and support the economy to start re-opening safely.

“Local businesses need your support right now to ensure they can continue to trade in the future. Our message for residents is if you continue to follow the public health guidance around COVID-19 it’s safe to get back out there and do some shopping on your high street.”

West Dorset MP Chris Loder has also encouraged his constituents to support their local ships and businesses, saying “they have never needed us more”.

He added: ““Now that restrictions have started to ease, while not being complacent, it is critical we try to get back to some normality. Many of us have been supported by those small shops who have remained open throughout the crisis, delivering to our homes and feeding our communities. Now is our chance to pay back their dedication to us, by shopping with them and helping their businesses to recover.

“We will notice some changes when we shop, and of course we must adhere to guidelines regarding safe distancing, hand hygiene and wearing face coverings when in busy or enclosed spaces. However, there is no reason why we cannot all now play our part in reviving our local economies.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is also encouraging the public to support small businesses through this time of national crisis.

During the lockdown, more than half (51%) of all small firms closed at some stage, and of those small businesses which have closed and remained closed during the lockdown, 20% do not believe they can reopen in a way that is compliant with their respective government’s advice on working safely including social distancing.

Figures released by the FSB have also revealed the following:

  • 35% of all small businesses have remained closed during lockdown
  • 60% of retailers have remained closed during the lockdown, with 62% of retailers on or near the high street (within 15 minutes walking distance) remaining closed throughout
  • 60% said it would cost up to £1,000 in terms of the set up costs to comply with government guidance on working safely and 28% said it would cost between £1,000 to £10,000 in terms of set up costs alone

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “The past few months have been and remain some of the toughest periods of trading that the economy has faced in recent history.

“Right across every single village, high street, town centre and city shopping centre, small businesses have faced an unprecedented period of turbulence the likes none have seen before. That is why today is a crucial landmark in getting back to business, bringing the retail economy back on track as well as crucially safeguarding the livelihoods of millions of employees.

“But this won’t be like flicking on a light switch, for many this will be a slow and gradual easing back into business. Not every small firm will find it financially viable to open, while others will not be able to cope with full customer demand on day one with social distancing measures still in place, and their desire to protect their staff, suppliers and customers. Some shops are deliberately staggering opening times among themselves to help manage the high street, and manage deliveries.

“The raft of financial packages from the government has enabled thousands of businesses to stay afloat, but this of course cannot last forever, and we need small businesses to be back and trading, so they can get back on their feet. That’s why it’s vital that the public now do all they can to support small firms as they start to reopen.

“In place of a physical visit to a retailer, many small firms are trading in some capacity online, this is a great way support businesses that aren’t ready to open just yet. Perhaps also go on to their social media and express your support, and provide a positive review where they have a review site.

“But for those going into the bricks and mortar stores, patience from the public is needed. There may be queues in place, limits on the number of shoppers in a single building and other measures all designed to protect staff as well as customers. So I’d urge everyone to show patience and consideration especially during the next couple of weeks.

“Making up 99% of all businesses in the country, small firms are already the backbone of the economy as well as being at the heart of their local communities which is why they will play a pivotal role in the economic recovery over the weeks and months to come. Therefore it has never been more important to support small firms, shop local and support the nation’s self-employed.”

Stay safe while shopping locally

As the threat of the virus has not passed yet, Dorset Council together with town and parish councils, have been working with local businesses and organisations to ensure that people can keep safe while they’re out and about.

Shops that may reopen include those that sell clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books and electronics. Hairdressers, beauty salons and leisure facilities, such as cinemas and theatre, currently remain closed. Cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars are also closed unless they are offering a takeaway service.

Businesses will only be able to open if they are confident about managing the risks and are able to follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

To keep people safe, Dorset Council has been working with town and parish councils across the county. Work is underway and will continue over the coming weeks to implement various measures on the high street designed to help shoppers stay safe, including:

  • Stencilled markings and signs around busy areas, including bus stops, helping people to observe social-distancing
  • Widening footways and cycleways by temporarily closing parking bays and cutting back vegetation
  • Scheduled partial road closures to provide more space for pedestrians, especially around food huts and vans
  • Creating additional cycle parking and new cycle routes
  • In the longer-term, pedestrianising busy areas with large numbers of cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars.

Some shops will have staff members greet customers to explain the social distancing measures inside, and manage how many customers can come in. Businesses will also manage any queue that forms and stop people from joining if their space limit is reached.

Dorset Council recommends cycling or walking to your local high street whenever possible. However, it has reopened council-run car parks and normal charges are in operation. Drivers are encouraged to use their mobile phone to pay for parking by calling/texting or using the Just Park app. If you need to use a ticket machine, keep your distance from others when waiting to pay.

If you need to use public transport to get to the high street, remember that as of today it is compulsory to wear a face covering while travelling on public transport.

Many public toilets will also be open, and these have full hand-washing facilities available. Some toilets will remain closed while the council makes changes to ensure they are safe for public use.

Please wash your hands regularly, before you leave home and when you get back. If you know you are likely to use a public toilet, make sure to carry your own hand sanitiser and gels.

LymeOnline has launched its own ‘Shop Local’ campaign to help Lyme Regis traders get back on their feet. Click here for the latest list of shops and businesses which are now open, or email edit@lyme-online.co.uk to include your business in this free promotion.

Woodmead Halls
About Francesca Evans 2537 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

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