Residents are being urged to shop local and support their high street safely as the borough’s non-essential retailers prepare to reopen.
Shops, hairdressers, gyms and beauty salons are among the businesses allowed to reopen on Monday (12 April), alongside outdoor hospitality, as the gradual easing of restrictions continues.
And, with businesses emerging from a challenging year of lockdowns, people who are planning to want to visit shops are being encouraged to stay local.
Paul Ambrose, Rochdale BID manager, said: “It’s been an incredibly challenging year for our high streets and that’s why it’s more important than ever that we support them as we start to emerge from this pandemic. Our businesses contribute to the economy, culture and life of our wonderful town centres and spending money in your local area means more of it stays in the local economy, supporting local jobs.
“Our businesses are ready to welcome visitors again and are looking forward to helping people get back to doing the things they enjoy.”
Outdoor markets, such as the Riverside Market in Rochdale town centre and Middleton Market will also be reopening fully from 12 April, while Heywood Market is undergoing a renovation and will reopen in May.
But with covid still very much with us, people are advised to continue to follow guidelines to keep cases under control as the economy starts to open up again.
Visitors are advised to:
• Continue to practice social distancing when out and about.
• Wear a face covering and use hand sanitiser in indoor venues like shops and hairdressers and in taxis.
• Book a slot in advance if they plan to visit restaurants and bars. Capacity at outdoor venues is limited.
• Stay seated when visiting outdoor venues like bars, as it will be table service only. Visitors should wear a face covering if stepping inside to use the toilet facilities.
• People should only meet in groups of no more than six or two households.
• Plan their journey into town – public transport may be limited and there have been changes to parking and roads in Rochdale town centre since lockdown began, including the closure of the car park at Rochdale Town Hall.
Rochdale Council is working hard to support businesses as they prepare to reopen. All licensed premises have received detailed information from the public protection team and many have been visited. The team will also be out and about with police officers over the coming weekends to ensure that everyone stays safe.
The Rochdale Development Agency has also revamped Bulls Brow and Butts Avenue in the Rochdale town centre conservation area, with new paving and seating set to be unveiled at the site soon.
Retail and hospitality workers are also strongly encouraged to take part in regular fast testing to keep a lid on asymptomatic transmission. More than 35,000 tests have already been carried out since the scheme started in January, with sites operating across the borough seven days a week and results only taking around 20 minutes to come through.
Mark Widdup, Director of Neighbourhoods at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “It’s great to see places starting to reopen, and remarkably, despite it being an incredibly difficult year for high streets, Rochdale has welcomed new businesses during this time, including Greggs, which is now trading in the Rochdale Riverside complex, and Crust Pizza and Loaded Burgers, which will be opening at the site later in the year.
“We’re hoping that this unlocking can continue to as planned by government, with indoor venues open by the middle of May and all social restrictions being lifted by the end of June.
“But what happens next really is up to all of us continuing to follow the rules to ensure that the rates are low enough to keep this roadmap on track.
“What we do have in our armoury that we didn’t have after previous lockdowns is a vaccination programme, alongside fast testing sites across the borough, which are a vital way of keeping rates down. I’d encourage everybody to have the vaccine when they’re invited and frontline workers to go for a fast test twice a week.”
Victoria Davies, Middleton Town Centre Manager, said: “We’re looking forward to a successful reopening and can’t wait to welcome people back to Middleton Market and the wider town centre.
“We’ve worked with the council to get the town centre ready for reopening and have put some changes in place to protect our visitors and welcome them back safely.
For more information on opening town centres across the borough, click here