18 June 2020| | 2 min read
Stay safe this weekend
People are urged to stay safe if they are thinking of heading to city centre shops this weekend.
This will be the first weekend of trading for many non-essential retailers since lockdown started but, although shops are open, the message remains that it is not yet business as usual.
Social distancing measures are in place inside shops and on streets and there is also less seating and fewer toilet facilities available in the city centre at the present time.
The majority of people, with some exceptions for young children and people with certain medical conditions, will also be required to wear a face covering if they are using public transport.
People are again urged to only come into town if their journey is necessary and wherever possible to use local shops as efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus continue.
Cllr Ged Bell, cabinet member for employment and culture at Newcastle City Council, said: “Many shops and businesses in the city centre are open and, while it is great to see retailers welcoming customers again, we must remember that we still need to take things slowly.
“I would like to thank the retailers, traders and city hosts, who have worked so hard to ensure the first week or reopening has gone very well.
“We are not back to normal just yet and we still need to adhere to social distancing and other measures to help us all to stay safe.
“Because of this, people will find that their journeys into town will be quite different to what they are used to.”
If you need to come into the city centre, please follow the latest national guidance to keep yourself and others safe.
Going to the shops during pandemic
Social distancing measures in the city centre include a new one-way system on Northumberland Street as well as queuing areas outside shops.
In order to create enough space for these measures and to help keep people safe, the city council has had to temporarily remove seating and other street furniture, although this is being kept under review to see whether any benches could be put back safely.
City hosts, supported by police community support officers and NE1’s street ranger team, will be available to give help and advice to people as they get used to the new arrangements.
Further social distancing measures are due to be introduced over the coming days on roads off Northumberland Street as well as on Percy Street, Blackett Street and near the Monument area.
Shops are asking their customers to adhere to social distancing measures while inside their premises and, while some will have toilets open for their customers, with many cafes, restaurants and bars remaining closed there will be far fewer facilities available.
The only council-owned public toilets in the city centre are located within the Grainger Market where there is an accessible toilet open for market customers.
The council is currently looking at how the other Grainger Market customer toilets can be opened while maintaining the social distancing and strict hygiene standards that are required.
As lockdown measures ease further over the next few weeks the council will continue to work to make the city centre safe and more accessible for all and will support businesses to do this too.