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Following government guidelines, on Monday 15 June many of Dorset’s shops will be re-opening for business, and they need your support.

Most shops and high streets across the county have been closed since the government introduced lockdown measures in order to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Now that restrictions have started to be relaxed, shoppers are able to return to their local high streets. This is vital for shop owners, who need Dorset residents to help get their businesses back on their feet by shopping locally.

But as the threat of the virus has not passed yet, Dorset Council together with town and parish councils have been working with local businesses and organisations to ensure that people can keep safe while they’re out and about.

Shops that may reopen include those that sell clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books and electronics. Hairdressers, beauty salons and leisure facilities like cinemas currently remain closed. Cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars are also closed unless they are offering a take-away service.

Businesses will only be able to open if they are confident about managing the risks and are able to follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

To keep people safe, Dorset Council has been working with town and parish councils across the county. Work is underway and will continue over the coming weeks to implement various measures on the high street designed to help shoppers stay safe: –

  • Stencilled markings and signs around busy areas, including bus stops, helping people to observe social-distancing
  • Widening footways and cycleways by temporarily closing parking bays and cutting back vegetation
  • Scheduled partial road closures to provide more space for pedestrians, especially around food huts and vans
  • Creating additional cycle parking and new cycle routes
  • In the longer-term, pedestrianising busy areas with large numbers of cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars.

Some shops will have staff members greet customers to explain the social distancing measures inside, and manage how many customers can come in. Businesses will also manage any queue that forms and stop people from joining if their space limit is reached.

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.

If you need to use public transport to get to the high street, remember that from 15 June is it compulsory to wear a face covering while travelling on public transport.

Many public toilets will also be open, and these have full hand-washing facilities available. Some toilets will remain closed while we make changes to ensure they are safe for public use.

Please wash your hands regularly, before you leave home and when you get back. If you know you are likely to use a public toilet, make sure to carry your own hand sanitiser and gels.

Cllr Gary Suttle, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth and Skills, said:

“By staying local we can continue to limit the spread of COVID-19, and by shopping local we can ensure that our local high-street shops are able to get back on their feet.

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.”