As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, Cheshire East Council is preparing for the reopening of the borough’s town centres and urging businesses to access the support available to them with the launch of a public information campaign.
The campaign, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is to support businesses to welcome back customers safely.
It will inform people of the Covid-19 measures in place to protect them and the precautions they need to take to aid the safe reopening of the borough’s 11 town centres, as well as encouraging them to support local businesses.
It comes following the government’s latest announcement on its plans for exiting lockdown, with all non-essential retail reopening from April 12, as well as restaurants, bars and cafes (for outdoor table service only), hair and nail salons, libraries and gyms.
Commenting, Cheshire East Council’s Executive Director for Place, Frank Jordan said: “We look forward to our town centres and high streets reopening, but this must be done in a safe way given the ongoing pandemic.
“Businesses have already been hit hard and are now having to adapt to what is a very different business landscape, while complying with a number of Covid-safe measures.
“The council’s regulatory services team is continuing to offer guidance and support to businesses regarding the current restrictions put in place by government and I urge them to get in touch if they have any questions or concerns, our officers are here to help.
“I would also like to appeal to the public to play their part in ensuring our town centres can reopen safely by taking personal responsibility to help stop the spread of the virus.
“This includes wearing a face covering where necessary, including in shops, making sure they sanitise their hands and maintaining social distancing, which still applies with the rule of six.
“By adhering to the safety measures, people can relieve some of the pressure facing local businesses and not put them in the position of having to turn people away or face possible enforcement action."
The council will also be proactively working with town and parish councils to utilise an additional recently announced stream of ERDF funding through the ‘Welcome Back Fund’.
The funding will be used to support activities and initiatives that help local businesses to prepare to reopen safely and successfully.
To support hospitality businesses, the council has amended its temporary pavement licence, making it free for businesses to apply.
The licences, also known as ‘alfresco licences’, are valid until September 2022 and grant permission to set up temporary outside seating to allow for social distancing measures.
The council is keen to work in partnership to support Cheshire East’s town centres to thrive and is developing a number of Town Centre Vitality Plans, which will identify potential initiatives to support businesses and the local economy moving forward.
Mr Jordan added: “The aim is to create exciting and vibrant places that increase footfall and activity. This builds on existing plans and projects we have been delivering across the borough.
”Meanwhile, the council is inviting applications for the government’s Restart Grant, having so far paid out more than £134m in grants to Cheshire East businesses to help boost their recovery and rebuild the local economy.