Businesses across the district are currently preparing to welcome customers back in person from 12 April when the next stage of the Government's roadmap takes effect with the reopening of non-essential retail.

"Our businesses are extremely eager to see customers face-to-face again and have been busy putting a wide range of measures in place to keep both customers and staff safe within their premises," explains Jane Hotchkiss, Director of Growth, Place and Regeneration at Chichester District Council.

"From one-way systems to ensuring the correct signage and hygiene measures are available, I know that our businesses really want customers to feel as safe as possible. They have been putting in a lot of effort to welcome shoppers back and we're keen to reassure people that they can feel confident about returning to the district's High Streets.

"It's vital that people support businesses as they reopen, but we encourage people to do this safely so that we can continue protecting each other against the virus. All we ask is that you keep yourself and others safe by observing social distancing, wearing a face covering when required, and regularly washing or sanitising your hands when out and about.

"I am really looking forward to seeing our High Streets in Chichester, East Wittering, Midhurst, Petworth and Selsey back in business and watching our district spring to life again."

As well as the reopening of non-essential retail, Chichester's Wednesday market and Farmers' Market are set for a safe return to the High Street this month. In line with the Government's plan to carefully ease restrictions, the markets can now resume in their normal location. The Wednesday markets, operated by Bray's Associates, will move back to the city centre from 14 April. The Farmers' Markets, which are run by Chichester District Council, will return to East Street every first and third Friday of the month from 16 April.

As part of its Support Local campaign, Chichester District Council has produced a range of free signage for businesses, tailored to each main High Street area of the district, which businesses are welcome to download at: Shop Local, Spend Local, Support Local.

In addition, Chichester District Council has agreed to extend its existing Covid Ambassador Service until 21 June, in order to support the council's COVID-19 Business Recovery Plan. The role of Covid Ambassadors is to support businesses suffering from the effect of the pandemic by increasing public confidence and encouraging people to follow current Government guidance. As part of this, they regularly patrol areas with high footfall such as tourist hot spots and High Street areas to greet people as they visit shops and businesses, helping to control queues and encouraging social distancing.

In addition, the council's COVID Information Officers have been supporting businesses throughout the pandemic and will continue to support them over the coming months. From shops and supermarkets to pubs and takeaways, the Covid Information Officers have been working with businesses in the district to make sure they are following Covid-safe procedures and are doing all they can to keep their customers and staff safe. As part of this work, they have also provided advice and guidance on implementing hygiene and social distancing measures and will respond to reports of Covid breaches and work with businesses to discourage gatherings outside their premises.

The council has also been supporting local businesses by making sure that they have access to grant funding to aid their recovery from the pandemic. To find out more about the various Government grants available, and to apply, visit: Coronavirus support for businesses.

To help make people's High Street visit even safer and easier, the council's toilet facilities are open across the district and are regularly inspected and cleaned, including over the weekends and Bank Holidays. In addition, the council also offers a contactless payment system, MiPermit, in council-owned car parks across the district. This allows customers to pay contactless, and extend their stay without having to return to their vehicle. People can find out more about this service at: MiPermit.

For more information about the Support Local campaign, visit: Shop Local, Spend Local, Support Local.

Date of release: 6 April 2021

Reference: 3998