Dorset’s high streets are reopening tomorrow

High street in Shaftesbury
Photo: Shaftesbury by Vivvi Smak

Most retail, hospitality, leisure and other businesses have been closed since the Government introduced “the lockdown” to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 infection.

As of tomorrow (15th June), non-essential shops and businesses which survived this economic turmoil will be reopening following the relaxation of the Government’s guidelines.

However, cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, (except takeaways), hairdressers and leisure (eg. gyms, cinemas, water parks) businesses will remain closed, until 4th July.

Although many shops and businesses benefited from cash grants and discretionary grants, the economic situation for the majority of Dorset businesses has been dire.

As a result, Dorset Council is partnering with shops to encourage the public to stay local and shop local to help these businesses see at least some of the old normal and to reduce closures and loss of jobs.

As the threat of COVID-19 has yet to pass, Dorset Council has said that alongside town and parish councils, they have been doing their best to ensure that the reopening of Dorset’s high street is done as safely as possible, including:

  • widening foot and cycle paths
  • stencilled markings onto pavements in busy areas, at bus stops and where people are likely to queue
  • scheduled road closures and diversions (eg. the Shaftesbury’s high street pedestrianisation)
  • created new cycle routes
  • offered businesses the guidance and support needed for tomorrow onwards
  • planning on creating more pedestrian-only zones once cafes, restaurants and pubs reopen

Some other changes you may see will include staff members outside of shops, limiting the numbers of customers in a shop at one time, and explaining the social distancing measures that are in place.

The reopening of Dorset’s high street will see many businesses reopen after a long closure, including those selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books and electronics.

When shops reopen, business owners will be keen to see shoppers, even if the queues are likely to be longer and business will be slower. However, shopping locally (where possible) is hugely important to put Dorset back on track and restoring a as much of a thriving economy as possible.

We recommend cycling or walking to your high-street whenever possible. However, we have re-opened council-run car-parks and normal charges are in operation. Please use your mobile phone to pay for parking where you can, by calling/texting or using the Just Park app. If you need to use a ticket machine, keep your distance from others when waiting to pay.

Dorset Council

If you use public transport to do your shopping or travel, it is now a requirement to wear a face mask – for your safety, the safety of other passengers and staff.

It’s also worth noting that most public toilets will be open in Dorset; however, some may remain closed while the council helps ensure that they are safe to use and that social distancing measures can be followed.

Overall, it’s advised that you wash your hands regularly, carry your own hand sanitiser, wear a face mask and gloves where possible.

By staying local we can continue to limit the spread of COVID-19, and I urge you to shop locally where possible to show support for our businesses in these extremely difficult times.

This is a crucial time for local business-owners who want to welcome shoppers back while ensuring that their customers stay safe. By councils working together with businesses and their customers, we can maintain public health and support the economy to start re-opening safely.

Local businesses need your support right now to ensure they can continue to trade in the future. Our message for residents is if you continue to follow the public health guidance around COVID-19 it’s safe to get back out there and do some shopping on your high street.

Councillor Gary Suttle, Dorset Council
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