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Shops prepare to re-open their doors

Shops in South Tyneside are preparing to welcome back customers next week as part of government plans to restart local economies.

Non-essential retail businesses can reopen from Monday 15 June and the council is supporting them by introducing a range of measures to ensure people can shop safely.

South Tyneside Council has received a share of a £50million fund available nationally to help the recovery of the high street, following the gradual easing of lockdown.

The council has been working behind the scenes to help retail businesses operate in line with social distancing guidance so that customers can shop with confidence.

Measures including new signage, handwash and sanitiser stations will be in place in the Borough's main shopping areas.

South Shields Market will also reopen on June 13 and the council has been working with stall holders to ensure they can trade safely.

Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "We want to make sure that people who want to return to the high street can do so with confidence.

"We are taking a cautious approach to the easing of lockdown and we'd ask shoppers and visitors to the high street to pay attention to the new measures in place to protect themselves and others.

"We know that the vast majority of people have been using common sense during the pandemic and we'd urge them to continue doing so if they plan to shop.

"While our absolute priority is safety, we are also acutely aware of the immense challenges our business community has had to face over recent months and we are committed to helping them bounce back and helping our local economy recover."

Safety measures will initially be in place in shopping areas with the highest footfall, including South Shields town centre; Station Road, Hebburn; The Nook and Jarrow town centre. The council has also been liaising with the owners of the Mountbatten shopping precinct in Hebburn and the Viking Centre in Jarrow, which are privately owned.

At The Nook and on Station Road, Hebburn, parking bays closest to the shops will be temporarily suspended to accommodate the additional space required for social distancing.

Cllr Malcolm added: "We have had to create extra room for pedestrians and for people to stand and queue, and in some areas this has meant we have had to remove some of the parking spaces.

"We appreciate this may cause some inconvenience, however, it is unavoidable if we are to accommodate safe social distancing.

"We thank people in advance for their cooperation and patience."

For further information on measures that will be in place in each area, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/shopsafe.

The council received £137,000 from the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, which is providing £50million from the European Regional Development Fund to support local authorities across England.

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