Rugby Borough Council is working with partners including Rugby First, the company running the town centre Business Improvement District, to make sure that the town centre is ready to reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased.
With open air retail able to restart from 1 June if they can do so safely, the partners have confirmed that Rugby’s market will reopen this Friday, 5 June.
The partners are working with market traders to make sure that they have the necessary safety measures in place. And, with all retail able to reopen from 15 June provided that Government restrictions are eased as expected, work is well underway to make sure that businesses and open spaces are ready.
Also involved are the county council’s highways team, which is looking at proposals for changes to the highway network, and Rugby Central, the town centre shopping centre.
Rugby First’s Bid Rangers and Rugby Borough Council’s Community Wardens are preparing to mark out social distancing guides on pavements and pedestrianised areas, with regular reminders to keep two metres apart. These measures will particularly focus on bus stops, taxi ranks, the market place and areas where queues may be expected to form.
The leaders of Rugby Borough Council’s political groups have welcomed the plans.
Cllr Seb Lowe, leader of the Conservative group and Leader of Rugby Borough Council, Cllr Maggie O’Rourke, leader of the Labour group, and Cllr Jerry Roodhouse, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said: “Our over-riding objective is to make sure that our residents and businesses feel safe to return to trade.
“With the market able to return this weekend the town centre is taking its first steps to reopen. It is down to each and every one of us to comply with social distancing guidelines and respect the measures that are in place, but with practical changes on the ground it will be easier to trade and shop safely.
“We hope that the steps we are taking now will both help traders to prepare and encourage residents to return to the town centre and support our local businesses.”
Alistair George, Chair of Rugby First, said: “The town centre business owners that I have spoken to over the last few weeks, have been ensuring that the re-opening of their premises is achieved in the safest way possible. The guidelines for how different types of organisations will achieve this varies, but everyone has been very positive and keen to re-energise their business, whilst being ‘Covid Secure’. While many premises have been vacated during lockdown, Rugby First has continued to ensure that there has been a presence in the town centre, monitoring premises and ensuring everyone’s safety and security, while also keeping the town centre clean.
“The team at Rugby First have also been able to assist many businesses with access to grant funding and providing contact information for a variety of bespoke requirements, adapting to the needs of the members at a very difficult time. As part of the gradual easing of lockdown, there are steps that need to be taken to ensure that the town centre is a safe and inviting place for our customers and clients to return to as well, and I’m pleased that Rugby Borough Council and Warwickshire County Council have been able to join with Rugby First to achieve this.
To help businesses comply with the government’s requirements that they have a risk assessment showing that they are “Covid secure” Rugby Borough Council and Rugby First are providing checklist and guidance documents that traders can complete and make available on request.
Shopkeepers can download the checklist at www.rugby.gov.uk/coronavirus.