This is what York shops are doing to get ready to reopen

Coney Street should soon be fully reopened. Photograph: Richard McDougall

York’s shops are preparing to reopen – and putting measures in place to make customers feel confident that it is safe to return to the city centre.

Plastic protective screens will be installed in many stores, some staff may wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves, shops could provide hand sanitiser and card machines and surfaces are likely to be wiped down between use if they are touched.

Staff will be encouraged to wash their hands regularly – about every 30 minutes – and may work in small teams to reduce the number of people they come into contact with, rather than mixing with different departments.

Some shops may also reduce their opening hours.

Phil Pinder, chair of York Retail Forum said stores are working together to source the perspex screens, PPE and other safety measures that they need to reopen.

He said giving customers the confidence to return to stores is key, adding: “Lots of shops are busy getting ready to reopen and installing the measures this week. The ready-made perspex stands are about £100.

“We are also recommending staff wash their hands every 30 minutes as a guideline.”

Stock in quarantine

Inside Waterstones York, in December 2019

A spokesperson for Waterstones says books will be put on trolleys – rather than back on shelves – after being handled by customers and the books will then be wheeled away to be put into a precautionary 72-hour quarantine.

One way systems and customer limits will be put in place and the cafe will remain closed.

Charity shops are expecting a large volume of donations when they reopen – and plan to isolate items for 72 hours before they go on sale as part of measures to ensure the safety of customers.

All non-essential shops in the UK are expected to be allowed to reopen from June 15.

City of York Council has also been allocated more than £186,000 from the government’s reopening high streets safely fund.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says the cash could be spent on new signs, street markings and temporary barriers – as well as a marketing campaign to get people back into the shops.

Improving consumer confidence

Photograph: Gareth Buddo / visityork.org

Government documents say the local authority should work with businesses and other organisations to decide what would be the best measures to put in place

The report says: “This funding can be used to enhance that existing offer to increase the level of safety measures, improve their attractiveness and ensure consistency of approach across individual and multiple public spaces including high streets.

“These changes can help improve consumer confidence and increase, safely, the number of active consumers.”

The guidance also says shops will need to meet five standards to reopen and acknowledge these on a poster.

They are

  • carrying out a risk assessment and sharing the results with employees
  • setting up handwashing and cleaning procedures
  • taking steps to help people work from home
  • trying to keep people 2m apart, and
  • minimising transmission risk.