What's important is that we all try to shop local, spend local, support local - because our local businesses need us now more than ever before. This is the key focus of our support local campaign, which we are delivering in association with the Chichester Observer and Midhurst and Petworth Observer, as well as our partners across the district.

I would like to express how grateful I am to all our partners for embracing this campaign which has been launched to coincide with the reopening of our high streets. I know our business associations and partners have been out there promoting it and encouraging businesses to take up the support that is on offer. This week we are making more downloadable signage available for businesses on our campaign pages, and we are also working on a short video aimed at helping to reassure members of the public, which we hope to share in the coming days.

Local businesses have put in a huge amount of effort to get prepared for your return. Social distancing signage and other measures have been put in place in all shops. I also know that the businesses across the district that we have spoken to have been taking your safety extremely seriously. They genuinely care for their customers and want people to feel safe coming back, and all the businesses I have visited have put in as many of the measures that they can in order to make their environment both as safe and as welcoming as possible. It's also worth looking out for the Government's COVID-19 Secure posters in shop and business windows which show that the business has completed a risk assessment and put in place the necessary measures to ensure social distancing.

It's going to take all of us some time to get used to this new way of navigating and being in our towns, and while some of you have been very glad to get out and about again more normally than before, I know that many others will feel uncertain and worried about visiting public places again for some time to come - this is completely understandable. But things will get better.

As well as our Farmers' Market returning recently, the general Wednesday and Saturday markets have also begun trading again in their new temporary location in the Cattle Market car park. Many people value these services and so I would urge people to support the stallholders - the market operator has been working hard to ensure that all the appropriate measures are in place to protect customers.

Although a wider variety of places are now open it is important that you continue keeping your safety and the safety of others a top priority while you are out and about. For example, if you are using public transport or visiting a hospital, then don't forget that it is now mandatory for most people to wear a face covering or mask to protect both yourself and others from risk of infection.  You should also keep a face mask in your bag and wear it whenever you are in an enclosed public space where you are more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as a shop.

Please also remember that basic hygiene and hand washing practices are the most effective way to help prevent spread of infection. Make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with hot water and soap before you go out and then again when you return. Use the hand sanitisers provided when you are out and about, or take your own with you.

As our towns and cities gradually open up again, please don't lose sight of the wonderful community spirit that has been fostered over the last few weeks, we still need everyone to work together and support each other as there is still a long road ahead to recovery but I am confident that we will get there.

Best Wishes

Councillor Eileen Lintill,

Leader, Chichester District Council

Date posted: 16 June 2020