Council coronavirus concerns as Bedford town centre reopens


The cautious reopening of non-essential shops in Bedford tomorrow (Monday) sees health and safety at the top of the agenda.

With the highest coronavirus infection rate in the region, Bedford’s town leaders are urging the public to remain alert to the dangers of leaving the house for non-essentials.

“The government has begun to ease lockdown,” said Mayor Dave Hodgson in a video on his social media channels.

“In my opinion, this is premature for our area.”

He went to on say, “I’d urge residents to stick to the original government advice to stay home and stay safe. If you do go out, maintain social distancing and wash your hands often.

Working to the government’s guidelines, Bedford’s retailers have been painstakingly preparing to get back into their physical shops from Monday 15 June.

The reopening marks a crucial time for thousands of retailers and hundreds of thousands of jobs. According to the ONS retail sales figures, lockdown has cost non-food retailers £1.7 billion per week during April and May.

The Harpur Centre’s Samantha Laycock, said, “We understand that people will be cautious about returning to any public locations, and rightfully so – this pandemic has had a huge impact on our community.

“Our Centre has remained open for the duration of the crisis to provide access to essentials and we have already implemented robust plans to ensure the safety of our visitors.”

From Monday, the Harpur Centre will be limiting the number of customers allowed to enter at any one time and are asking family groups to be kept to a minimum.  Congregating or socialising in the shopping mall is prohibited.

“We’re making every effort to protect our colleagues and customers, and while safety is paramount, we look forward to welcoming our visitors and non-essential retailers back as they gradually reopen to serve the community.”

Bedford’s independent retailers are also looking forward to safely welcoming customers.

Hannah at épanoui said, “We are so grateful for everyone’s support of our online offering during this time which has meant we can now re-open better than ever.

“We are taking the health and safety measures very seriously and have implemented different ways to keep our customers safe while still enjoying our independent shopping experience.

Hannah Paine
épanoui’s Hannah Paine

“Supporting the Bedford indies is now more important than ever and I can’t wait to see us all move forward together into whatever the new normal will be.”

Anorak in the Old Arcade will be limited the number of customers to just two at time, and there will be hand sanitiser provided at the entrance and at the till.

“In last couple of days I’ve been re-merchandising the shop, so it’s fresh and lots of high summer stock,” said owner, Emma.

“I’m also going to offer complimentary one-to-one personal shopping appointments between 9 and 10am and 4 until 5pm every day.

“It’s for those customers who may still feel a bit nervous being around other people, who just want the shop to themselves or perhaps would like a styling session with me.”

New summer stock in store at Anorak

The British Retail Consortium has come together to launch five simple steps to encourage considerate shopping.

The retailers are urging the public to play their part in creating a safe and enjoyable retail environment for other customers and retail staff.

  1. Queue considerately
  2. Maintain social distancing
  3. Follow instructions inside and outside shops
  4. Follow all necessary hygiene measures
  5. Be respectful to shop staff

And finally, support our local businesses, but most of all: stay safe.

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