South Shields Market is set to reopen on Saturday 13 June with new measures in place to help traders and shoppers stay safe.
Like markets across the county, South Shields Market closed in March amid the coronavirus emergency. However, as the Government eases lockdown measures, the 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 coronavirus and ensure the health and safety of both traders, shoppers and the Market Team.
Following a risk assessment, the Council is changing the layout of the market 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 also 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. Marshals will also be at the market to help advise and assist visitors to follow the new guidance and have a safe and enjoyable experience.
The space between King Street and the Ferry terminal will be kept free of market stalls to create a clear route for pedestrians crossing the Market Place.
Councillor John Anglin, Lead Member for Regeneration and Economy, said: "We know that stall holders will be keen to return to the historic South Shields market, albeit a now socially distanced market.
"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.
The traditional South Shields Market usually operates on Mondays and Saturdays, 9am to 4pm. The Flea Market runs on Fridays, from 9am to 4pm.The Monday market will remain suspended at this time and will be considered in due course.
Visitors must follow the social distancing rules. They are also urged to continue following the advice of Public Health England and practice good hygiene, use hand sanitiser and regular handwashing.
Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus must not visit and should self-isolate at home.
The reopening of the market is a key element in the return of town centre shopping as the easing of lockdown restrictions see more retail outlets resume trading.
Councillor Anglin said: "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 15 June. More details on this will be announced soon."