Parking incentives and extra safety measures are being introduced by the council to encourage people to shop locally and to offer reassurance in the district's High Streets.

From December until February, the council is appointing Covid Ambassadors to help control queues and encourage social distancing. Funded through Government schemes, the ambassadors will be in the district's towns and in the city to greet people as they visit shops and businesses.

Councillor Tony Dignum, Cabinet Member for Growth, Place and Regeneration at Chichester District Council, says: "Our fantastic High Streets in Chichester, East Wittering, Midhurst, Petworth and Selsey have made their premises Covid-secure and are looking forward to welcoming shoppers in the run up to Christmas for a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.

"It's so important that we support our local businesses, and this has never been more important as we rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic. Now that the national restrictions have been lifted, we are encouraging people to safely return to our High Streets, where they can find everything they need to make Christmas special.

"To help with this, our new Covid Ambassadors will be on hand to welcome shoppers and assist with social distancing in the High Streets. The weather can be unpredictable at this time of year, so we're encouraging people to come prepared for any changes in the weather while they are out and about in case they need to queue outside.

"We are very lucky to have such a fantastic range of businesses in our district, many of which offer unique products that you can't buy anywhere else. To encourage people to shop locally and to further help with social distancing, we are offering free parking every weekend in December in Avenue De Chartres car park, Chichester, and people can also use the MiPermit app to select two hours and get the third free in most of our car parks across the district during December.

"All of this work is part of the council's Countdown to Christmas campaign to encourage people to support our local businesses. You can show your love of the district with our special Christmas gift tags, which you can download for free from our website, and apply special Facebook and Twitter frames to your profile pictures. Help us make this Christmas a local Christmas by supporting local wherever you can. To find out more, visit: ."

To support local businesses during this challenging period, Chichester District Council has employed two Covid Information Recovery Officers. They have been working closely with businesses across the district to help them develop and implement Covid-19 risk assessments by offering reassurance and advice.

Tony adds: "We know that many of our local businesses have felt isolated and unsure of what they need to do to make their premises Covid-secure. Our Covid Information Recovery Officers are there to offer advice and support, answering questions from businesses about current Government guidance, as well as helping them to understand and interpret regulations around social distancing and other measures to minimise the risk of transmission of the disease.

"They've been working with businesses during the latest national restrictions to help them get ready to safely reopen their doors, including offering advice on managing queues within their stores in the run up to Christmas. They've helped a number of businesses and we know this has made a huge difference."

The Covid Information Recovery Officers can also help signpost businesses to further business support that the council can offer. This includes financial help and links to free downloadable signage, and advice on who best to speak to if businesses are concerned about possible coronavirus cases. District businesses can find out more or get in touch with one of the officers by emailing: healthprotection@chichester.gov.uk or calling: 01243 534602.

The council's Revenues and Benefits and Economic Development teams have also been making sure that businesses have access to financial support. To find out more about the Government grants available, and to apply, visit: Business rates announcements.  

Details of the council's Covid-19 recovery grant scheme for businesses, as well as information to help support local businesses, is available on the council's coronavirus business support web page: Coronavirus support for businesses.

The council's Contract Services team have also been developing their services for businesses to help make their lives even easier, including a new Food Waste Recycling Service. This service, which is now available for any business that deals with food in the district and surrounding areas, provides an easy and cost effective way to recycle food waste. It means businesses can reduce their impact on the environment as well as helping to save them money on waste collection costs. For more information, please visit: Food waste recycling service for businesses.

Local businesses can also request a free 'Support Local' marketing pack as part of the Countdown to Christmas campaign. This includes a range of different digitals assets tailored to promote the district, city, and each of the key retail towns: Chichester, East Wittering, Midhurst, Petworth, and Selsey. To find out more about this, and to request a pack, visit: .

Date of release: 2 December 2020

Reference: 3950