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What are the new rules for shopping in Cambridge?

Many Cambridge city centre shops are set to reopen next week - but shoppers are being warned they need to be patient with new social distancing rules, which will include one-way routes.

The government is making further changes to coronavirus lockdown restrictions from Monday, meaning 'non-essential' retail outlets can open for the first time since late March.

The three main shopping precincts in Cambridge - the Grand Arcade, Lion Yard and the Grafton Centre - will be opening, and many shops throughout the city centre are expected to follow suit.

Grand Arcade, Picture: Keith Heppell. (36518965)
Grand Arcade, Picture: Keith Heppell. (36518965)

However, shoppers will have learn the new etiquette of socially distanced browsing - including staying on the left hand side as they pass through arcades, following one-way routes, watching social media posts about queue lengths and being prepared to come back later if their preferred shop is full. The government, World Health Organization and city leaders are also encouraging shoppers to wear face masks, which can play a key role in prevent future waves of the virus, according to University of Cambridge research. Face coverings are also mandatory from Monday for those using public transport.

Roger Allen, centre manager at the Lion Yard shopping centre, told the Cambridge Independent: “It's going to be completely different and I think patience will be the word of the day.

"We are allowing queuing only for the width of the tenants shop premises in some cases it will mean just two people in a queue if the queue is full people will have to come back later. Please bear with us. We are trying our best. Hopefully we will win a lot more than we lose. It will be a learning cycle for all of us.

Lion Yard. Picture: Keith Heppell.
Lion Yard. Picture: Keith Heppell.

“We’re very pleased to be able to reopen and we’ve done a lot of work to make it safe - basically I have been working on what the new future will look like since we went into lockdown in March.”

He added there would be many hand gel sanitation points, added security and extra cleaners, who would clean "almost continuously".

And if the centre reached maximum capacity - around 380 people - then they would close the entrances to allow shoppers to leave before letting more in.

He praised Sports Direct and Tiger, which have implemented one-way systems and simple measures such as limiting hand baskets to control the numbers of shopper in stores.

He promises significant savings will be on offer as many stores will have significant amounts of stock they want to sell off.

“There will be some fabulous bargains and if customers can bear with us they will be the ones who really benefit. We’re very very happy to be open again.”

Shoppers will also be asked to take home clothes to try on as changing cubicles will be closed. Some shops will ask people to browse without touching, while other will put into storage for 72 hours anything that has been touched but not purchased.

Manager at the Grand Arcade - Paul Bentham, Grand Arcade. Picture: Keith Heppell.
Manager at the Grand Arcade - Paul Bentham, Grand Arcade. Picture: Keith Heppell.

The Grand Arcade has also announced it will reopen on Monday and John Lewis department store has confirmed it will be reopening its Cambridge site within the centre. A spokesperson for the shopping centre said: “Many of our stores are reopening and some of our cafes and restaurants are offering takeaways, click and collect or delivery services.”

The Grand Arcade spokesperson added: “The health of our visitors, retailers and centre team is always our primary focus so you will notice extra measures in place when you next visit. We have carefully reviewed every step of our visitors’ journey in the centre to implement the highest standards of safety possible.”

The following will be in place from Monday:

  • Initially, managers will control entries to the centre from St Andrew’s Street, Fisher Square and Lion Yard to allow for the recommended two metres distancing between visitors.
  • Access to the centre from the car park will only be possible fromNorthside ground floor – by Carluccio’s and Topshop – using the stairwells or lifts, where they have implemented social distancing measures and a queuing system. Disabled access will remain unchanged from the Southside entrance.
  • The cycle park on lower ground will remain open as usual, with access to the centre via the stairwells or lifts.
  • visitors will be asked to follow a one-way system guidance throughout all levels of the centre. Safe queuing lanes will be available in front of each store, and retailers are planning appropriate social distancing measures in their shops.
  • Staff at the shopping centre have all been provided with suitable PPE such as masks and gloves to help them carry out their roles safely and there will be regular cleaning of key touchpoints throughout the day.

The Grand Arcade’s retail opening hours will temporarily be 9am-6pm, Monday to Saturday, and 10am-4pm on Sunday until further notice. Its walkways will be open from 7.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

The car park remains open, Monday to Sunday, 24 hours a day.

The spokesperson added: “All our retailers are mobilised to reopen as soon as possible but some of them will remain closed in June. We recommend our visitors to always check our website www.grandarcade.co.uk/stores, or to check with retailers directly, prior to their visit to avoid disappointment.”

The Grafton Centre is also planning to reopen on June 15, although the Boots store has been open throughout the pandemic.

Centre manager John O’Shea says the reopening will be “good for retail and for the economy”.

Grafton Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell.
Grafton Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell.

He adds: “We are putting in hand sanitisers at touchpoints, such as the lifts, and will be asking visitors to keep shops to their left as they walk to help with social distancing. The opening hours of the centre and the individual shops have yet to be finalised and we will be putting them on our social media channels over the coming days.

"We will all have to look out for ourselves and each other - so people must follow the government guidelines on social distancing. We will have queuing spaces marked outside shops and there will be extra cleaning going on throughout the the day and extra security. We want everyone to enjoy coming back to the shops and to be safe.”

The Grafton Centre car park remains open and from June 15 will be accessible from the shopping centre.

Grafton Centre, Centre Manager John O'Shea. Picture: Keith Heppell. (36519184)
Grafton Centre, Centre Manager John O'Shea. Picture: Keith Heppell. (36519184)

Meanwhile, Ian Sandison, chief executive of Cambridge Business Improvement District, said: “We have got nearly 500 shops, so there is no way of knowing exactly which will be reopening and even some quite senior people in large organisations are still on furlough so it is hard to find out exact numbers.

“But I’m getting emails each day from people saying they are reopening. We have detailed plans about how the city will reopen and we are communicating those with businesses.

"It is obviously a moving feast because even today we’ve seen reports the government is thinking of bringing forward the date when food and beverage businesses can start serving outside.

“I would take it as read that most retailers will reopen next week. We are encouraging businesses who can to take bookings and we are suggesting a smart queuing app."

The Cambridge BID's Ian Sandison. Richard Marsham.
The Cambridge BID's Ian Sandison. Richard Marsham.

Pedestrians and cyclists will be encourage to stay on the left of pavements and roads to aid social distancing, with the government encouraging people to stay two metres apart.

“We are saying everyone should keep left, which is the broad principle,” said Ian. On certain junctions there will need to be signs saying keep left - this is only advisory because it would take too long to get this passed officially.

“People will be politely asked to follow a one-way route down certain streets. Some of the narrow passages like Hobsons Passage and places like that there will be some advisory one-way routes.

“If possible if cyclists could get off and walk that would be helpful in the historic core and the narrow streets around the market square. The main issue is people might step off a pavement into the route of a bicycle or a vehicle so we are thinking about health and safety.”

A map has been released of the one-way routes for pedestrians around the city.

Public safety measures in place as Cambridge city centre shops reopen from June 15
Public safety measures in place as Cambridge city centre shops reopen from June 15

At the moment, restaurants and cafes will remain closed until July 4. This is the earliest date the government has said they can reopen, provided they implement social distancing measures.

Cambridge BID and the city council are considering making some room on pavements for eateries to place tables and chairs.

Meanwhile. the Cambridge University Botanic Garden is set to reopen too.

A spokesperson said: “We are looking forward to welcoming the public back. We will do this in phases, reopening to our 'Friends' only for Tuesday June 9 to Sunday, June 14, and then to the general public from Tuesday June 16. So that everyone can relax and enjoy their visit, things will look a bit different.”

The garden will operate different entrances and exits to prevent overcrowding at the gates:

  • From Hills Road/Station Road, entrance will be via the usual gate. Exit will be via the Hills Road service gate (further down Hills Road set into the new fence).
  • From Trumpington Road/Brookside, entrance will be via the usual gate. Exit will be via the Brookside Bike Park.

A queuing system will be in place at the gates to minimise the need for person-to-person interaction and to maintain a safe flow of people coming into the garden.

The cafe will reopen for takeaways only and visitors are welcome to bring picnics provided they take their rubbish home.

Mayor James Palmer has praised the behind-scenes teams for their heroic effort.

He said: “People have worked late into the night for weeks to make this happen. Thanks to their epic work - volunteers, shop staff and managers, marshals, council officers, police, transport and highways strategists, everyone involved - our region has been rebooted and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough open for business next week.”

But Mr Palmer warned that opening ‘non-essential’ retail premises and offices in the cities and towns across the county did not mean everything was normal and ‘business as usual’.

“It’s a joyful start for traders and customers, but people’s safety comes first. We must look after each other even more now. That means staying apart, following signs, barriers, and guidance from stewards, wearing face covering on public transport, but also walking and cycling in the fresh air whenever we can. If Covid has brought leaner, greener transport, active travel, more agile working, and a greater sense of responsibility for our neighbours, that’s a big plus. We mustn’t squander all the good done by the Lockdown over months with a breakout of inconsiderate behaviour now.”

Read more

One-way systems, keep-left guidance and stewards: All the safety measures as Cambridge shops reopen

Histon Road in Cambridge to close to citybound traffic from June 29 for up to a year: Diversions and bus route changes revealed

Coronavirus: Face masks are key to preventing second wave of Covid-19 - and we should all wear them, say University of Cambridge researchers

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