Warning as Harrogate's shops get ready to reopen

After nine weeks of lockdown Harrogate is preparing to give a big welcome back to shoppers in the town centre in a fortnight's time  - but a warning has been issued about avoiding a “stampede party celebration.”

Friday, 29th May 2020, 10:53 am
Updated Friday, 29th May 2020, 10:58 am
Leading traders from Independent Harrogate group pictured this week in James Street which has seen parking banned to create space for social distancing. From left Ben Ogden, Nicholas Richardson, Robert Ogden and Robert Kennedy. (Picture Gerard Binks)

Harrogate Borough Council will deploy a new £140,000 grant from the Government to help restart the local economy after the Prime Minister announced new plans to reopen all non-essential shops in England on June 15.

Coun Graham Swift, the council’s cabinet member for resources, enterprise and economic development said: “Opening up with caution is an excellent next step and we are already in dialogue with stakeholders, traders and businesses on how to support this.

“The fact that the Government is proactively asking retailers to plan for reopening is a very good thing.

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“But I would discourage a stampede party celebration and would strongly urge diligence and adherence to guidelines applicable at the time.”

Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce hailed the re-opening of the high street as “fantastic news” and “light at the end of the tunnel” for local traders who have been closed since late March.

The owner of Harrogate independent book shop Imagined Things said it would be “amazing” to welcome customers back to her shop on Parliament Street.

Georgia Duffy said: “I think it’s going to be different than before but it will be wonderful will to see many familiar faces of our lovely customers in the weeks to come.

But the small book shop owner also said she would be introducing new safety measures before reopening her store.

Maintaining social distancing and shoppers’ safety remains a priority for both local businesses and local authorities once Harrogate town centre reopens for business in 17 days time.

Several town centre streets, including James Street, have already had traffic cones placed to prevent parking so that customers can social distance while shopping.

Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive Sandra Doherty said: “The message we are open and welcoming visitors will enable those in the retail sector to begin to earn some much needed money.

”But measures to keep people safe while shopping will be important.”

Pressure group Independent Harrogate warned this week that Harrogate needed to “roll out the red carpet to visitors” if the town centre was to bounce back.

Its new mission statement warns against "complacency" over the major challenges facing the town centre and called for parking charges to be lowered to incentivise people to choose Harrogate over its competitors.

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