A huge thank you to the people who have come forward to become volunteer stewards and support the Covid Recovery group in working to re-open our own centre safely.
We have signed up an initial 15 people as volunteer stewards. However, as this is a new situation for everyone, we will be using experienced Cornwall Council and Penzance Council officers, supported by councillors from both authorities, to provide support for shoppers during the first couple of weeks of the re-opening of the town centre.
This will enable the volunteer stewards to carry out their training and ensure that the new arrangements are working correctly before they join the team. In the meantime they will remain on standby to help in any other ways if needed.
The Government’s decision to ease lockdown restrictions by encouraging the opening of non-essential shops from 15 June means that Penzance, like other towns and cities across England, is taking its first tentative steps to welcome shoppers back to its town centre.
We understand that some people feel it may be too early to re-open any non-essential shops but, given the Government’s decision, we want to make sure that it takes place in the safest and most professional and well organised way as possible. We also recognise the threat of the continued closure of our town centre on the future of individual businesses and the local economy.
Our priority is to ensure the safety of everyone who lives, works and shops in Penzance. We are following the latest guidance from the Government and NHS England in developing our plans for re-opening the town centre and will continue to review the details during the next few days to ensure that businesses are ready to re-open safely on 15 June.
The measures which will be introduced in our town centre are already being followed by people shopping at supermarkets and chemists, and, more recently, at garden centres and DIY stores. These include specific areas where people can keep their distance from others and queue safely while waiting to enter individual shops, and one way systems. Many shoppers are also experienced in using hand sanitisers and, where necessary, wearing face coverings.
With the help of support from the European Regional Development Fund we will be providing signs, flags, and floor stickers to show people where to go and to continue to remind them to follow social distancing measures and keep their hands clean by washing them regularly and using hand gel.
Businesses in the town centre are also committed to protecting the safety of their staff and customers and have been working hard to ensure their premises are safe. Most will have strict limits on the number of people who can enter their premises at any one time, with many erecting screens at their tills and using other protective equipment. Customers will be asked not to handle goods before buying them and encouraged to use contactless payment systems rather than paying by cash.
Please make sure you check and then follow all the safety measures which are being put in place by individual shops as they are there to protect both you and their staff.
One local business with experience of how to operate safely during the coronavirus pandemic is the Cornish Hen delicatessen. As well as erecting perspex screens around the display areas and at the counter, owner Sarah Shaw has devised a system to ensure that the three members of staff working in the shop can follow social distancing guidance. This include the staff working in separate areas , as well as collecting items for customers to prevent them from having to enter the premises.
“As we sell food and drink it is very important that we follow the highest possible standards of hygiene, including hand hygiene” said Sarah. “As well as wearing gloves for handling items of food, everyone is washing their hands regularly and we have antibacterial hand wash available for both staff and customers.
“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who is working with us to ensure that our town centre is ready to re open safely on 15 June. “
David Power was one of the first people to sign up as a volunteer steward.
David moved to Cornwall three years ago following a high profile career working as a chef in some of London’s top restaurants. After initially setting and running his own successful private catering business, a combination of stress and some significant health issues led to a decision to change careers. He is now a qualified teacher and was in the middle of training at Penwith College when the pandemic began.
“After overcoming some personal demons it is very important to my recovery to keep busy “ said David. “ I am also keen to give something back to the local community.
“I was immediately interested when I heard about the need for volunteer stewards and am looking forward to helping shoppers during the next few weeks ”.
We are very grateful to David and to all the other people who have volunteered to become stewards.
This is a very difficult time for everyone as we try to navigate a safe way out of this global pandemic.
Re-opening the town centre is the first step on this long journey and we are committed to ensuring that this is done in a measured and safe way which protects all parts of our community.
We want customers and the people working in the town’s shops and businesses to feel confident and safe in our town centre and will be keeping these measures under constant review.
We are very proud of our town and our fantastic range of shops and are looking forward to welcoming people back – safely.