South Tyneside Council is supporting businesses as they prepare to welcome back customers next week when national coronavirus restrictions are eased further.
From April 12, non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality can reopen, in line with the next stage of the government's roadmap out of lockdown.
Council officers, along with the police, have been proactively engaging with local businesses, including shops, licensed premises, and hair and beauty services, to support them so they can reopen their doors as safely and smoothly as possible.
Four new Business and Community Support Officers have been working with the environmental health team, providing advice around Covid guidelines and safety measures and offering face-to-face visits with businesses.
They will also be out and about talking to members of the public and over the coming weeks will be handing out 'Shop Safe' branded bags containing items such as hand sanitiser to remind people of the rules and the ongoing importance of social distancing, using face coverings and hand washing.
The government last month announced that it plans to extend pavement licences for a further 12 months to help the hospitality industry recover. The council has issued 25 licences so far. Planning permission is not required, the £100 application fee has been waived, and applications are processed within seven days. No licences have been refused and officers are looking at the potential for a blanket licence in some areas. For details of how to apply contact firstname.lastname@example.org
South Shields' outdoor market will reopen from Friday 16 April and will operate on Fridays and Saturdays.
Barriers and a one-way system will be in place and security stewards will be on hand to ensure shoppers can browse safely and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Hand sanitiser stations will also be available.
John Scott, Head of Economic Growth at South Tyneside Council, said: "We know that this next stage of the roadmap has been long awaited and we want to ensure the borough is both safe and inviting as businesses begin to open their doors again.
"It's important that we do all we can to help kickstart the local economy so we're supporting businesses to operate safely and customers so that they can shop or visit a premises with confidence.
"High streets may look a little different, so we'd ask people to look out for signage, outdoor queuing points and other measures which are in place to protect people."
The 12 regional local authorities have also created a suite of videos to provide consistent guidance for the safe reopening of businesses at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLz3yV2kde1-NDkSAeU1LjjUxWAm21JwLP
For further information visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/shopsafe