A national online book of condolence has been created where people can leave a message for the Royal Family, which you can find at: The Royal Family - book of condolence . We have also created an online book of condolence on our website.

Due to the current COVID-19 guidance and restrictions, we are urging people to avoid gathering in public places to lay flowers. The Royal Family has also asked that members of the public consider making a donation to charity instead of leaving floral tributes in memory of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Today (12 April), we moved into step two of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, meaning that all non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality, gyms, hairdressers and salons, and outdoor attractions can now reopen their doors.

It's been great to see our fantastic high streets in Chichester, East Wittering, Midhurst, Petworth and Selsey back in business. From one-way systems, to ensuring the correct signage and hygiene measures are available, our businesses have been putting a wide range of measures in place to keep both customers and staff safe within their premises.

We are incredibly 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 help support them, we have relaunched our Support Local campaign in association with the Observer series and our partners. The campaign encourages everyone to 'Shop Local, Spend Local, Support Local' wherever they can in order to help businesses back onto their feet following lockdown. You can find out more at: Shop Local, Spend Local, Support Local.

The campaign is also reminding people of the importance of keeping safe and following Government guidelines so that we can continue protecting each other against the virus. We ask that people observe social distancing, wear a face covering when required, and regularly wash or sanitise their hands when visiting our high streets and local businesses. Our Covid Ambassadors are on hand in the high streets to greet people as they visit shops and businesses, helping to control queues and encouraging social distancing. They can also be seen in tourist hotspots and areas of high footfall.

Our Support Local campaign is just one of the ways in which we have been supporting local businesses. Our Revenues and Benefits team have been working incredibly hard to deliver a series of Government grants to ensure that businesses have access to financial support. To date, £15.6m has been issued in Government grants to district businesses.

If you're a local business, I would encourage you to take a look at our website to see whether you are eligible for the Government's new Restart Grant scheme, which is now open for applications. These grants aim to support businesses in the non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care and accommodation sectors to reopen safely as restrictions are lifted. The scheme offers a one-off grant of up to £6,000 for non-essential retail premises, and another of up to £18,000 for non-essential hospitality, leisure, personal care and gym premises. An Additional Restrictions Grant also went live to help businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic but which aren't eligible for a Restart Grant. Please visit our website to find details of all the available grants and to apply: Business rates announcements.

Also this week, our Enabling Grant scheme went live to help small businesses in the district to access funding that will help them to grow and develop. The scheme is separate to the range of coronavirus support on offer and offers three types of grant - one is for capital projects; another is for website and social media projects; and the third is for start-up businesses. If you are interested in finding out more please visit: Enabling Grant Scheme.

As well as the reopening of non-essential retail, this week sees the safe return of Chichester's Wednesday market and Farmers' Market to the city centre. In line with the Government's plan to carefully ease restrictions, the markets can now resume in their normal location and I know that both traders and shoppers have been delighted to see the markets return safely to the high street. Don't miss Friday's Farmers' Market in East Street between 7am and 2pm. Find out more at: Farmers' Market.

Finally, I just wanted to remind you that we have put together some wider advice on keeping safe if you are out and about in our beautiful district. It highlights the safety measures and guidance in place and explains which agency is responsible for what. It covers facilities such as toilets and car parks; roads and cycle lanes; coastal locations; our high streets and in the community; and litter. This can be found at: Keeping safe when out and about.

Please take care and keep safe.

Best Wishes

Diane Shepherd

Chief Executive at Chichester District Council