Published: Thursday, 11th June 2020

Shops and businesses across Medway have been busy preparing to reopen and welcome customers back through their doors. 

Residents will be able to return to Medway’s high streets and go into more shops from Monday, 15 June, as many unlock their doors to customers for the first time since lockdown started on 23 March. 

Medway Council has produced a guidance pack for retailers to help them put plans in place to safely reopen from Monday, in line with government guidelines. Each shop is responsible for putting its own plans in place to help protect its staff and customers.

Customers are asked to be mindful that shops might have different social distancing measures in place, depending on their size and layout. Some shops might limit the number customers allowed in at once, ask customers to queue outside along the front of the shop or have a one-way system inside the store. Some shops offer contactless payment options and customers are reminded they can now use contactless payment up to £45 after the government increased the spend.

Measures put in place to protect shoppers and staff

Medway Council has committed to supporting local businesses as they prepare to welcome customers back through their doors. The council has put a number of its own measures in place in town centre high streets to further reduce the spread of the virus and protect the public:

  • Medway Greeters/Information Officers will be on hand during peak hours to welcome residents back to town centres and encourage people to queue responsibly and follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Enhanced cleaning will be carried out in each town centre high street.
  • Public toilets have been reopened and hand sanitiser dispensers have been installed.
  • Public bins will be regularly emptied and sanitised.
  • Litter picks will be carried out to help keep the streets clean.
  • Some benches will be taped off to help comply with social distancing measures.
  • Signage will be installed reminding all residents to social distance.
  • All Medway Council car parks are open and offer a cashless payment option, provided by RingGo.
  • Motorists are encouraged to use the cashless payment option in car parks to protect themselves and others, but the payment machines will be regularly cleaned for those paying by coins.
  • A temporary road closure order has been put in place restricting vehicles from driving along Rochester High Street, between 10.30am and 3pm, Sunday to Friday (this has been put in place to protect potential pedestrians queuing in the high street and will be kept under review).
  • Existing road restrictions remain in place along the high streets, including on a Saturday in Rochester High Street, between 10am and 4pm.

Residents encouraged to support Medway businesses

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “It is great that we are able to get more shops in Medway’s high streets open for business again. Medway has many shops based in our high streets and across our five towns, and it is important for our economy and local job prospects that they can continue to do business. 

“Medway Council has continued to support local businesses and is helping them through this evolving journey. The council has produced a useful guide for all retailers to offer them advice on reopening their doors to the public. 

“Business owners and shop employees have been working extremely hard to put safety measures in place to welcome customers back and to keep them and staff safe. Medway Council has also worked hard to put its own measures in place to protect the public and help Medway’s high streets thrive again. Customers will see some changes to the way we shop during the ongoing pandemic, but I would encourage residents to support Medway high streets and our local businesses. Please be patient and polite with staff, who will be doing their best to keep businesses open and the public safe. 

“We will continue to offer our support and advice to shops reopening in our high streets, as well as in other areas and villages within Chatham, Rainham, Strood, Gillingham and Rochester. We are proud that Medway has more than 14,000 businesses and we will do all we can to further support them through these challenging times and maintain Medway’s prosperous economy.”

Download: Medway Council’s guidance for retailers

Medway markets currently remain closed while social distancing plans are finalised to enable them to safely reopen.

Restaurants and cafes remain closed in line with government guidelines. 

Get more information about support available for businesses.

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