‘Significant milestone’ as Scottish shops get green light to open

Shops have been given the green light to reopen in Scotland a week on Monday in a move hailed as a “significant milestone” in restarting the country’s economy.

But Scots have been warned they will have to get used to a different way of shopping when stores finally open after more three months of lockdown due to coronavirus.

Industry leaders welcomed the announcement by Nicola Sturgeon yesterday as she confirmed that Scotland will move in to phase two of lockdown.

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But it will only apply to shops with outdoor exits and entrances on 29 June.

This means indoor shopping centres, such as Edinburgh’s Gyle Centre and Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries, will need to remain closed, except for access to essential shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies. These are expected to be allowed to reopen in the third phase of the easing of measures.

The First Minister said social distancing measures will need to be put in place for those shops that are able to open and asked for patience from customers.

She said: “All of us as customers have a role to play. When shops do reopen, I ask everyone to exercise patience, stick to the measures that are in place for your safety and at all times please respect retail staff who will be asking you to shop in a different way.”

Councils and retail bosses have been given ten days to ensure that plans are in place to manage queues, pedestrians and cyclists and remove unnecessary street furniture.

It follows sporadic unsavoury scenes south of the Border when shops reopened this week with some jostling at doorways as customers sought access to stores.

David Lonsdale, the chief executive of the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), said shops had been “eagerly awaiting” a firm date for the reopening which they could work towards.

“The First Minister’s announcement is a significant milestone, providing much-needed clarity on the path ahead,” he said.

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“It is welcome that Government has listened to our representations and that larger shops will be able to reopen sooner than anticipated.”

He added: “We look forward in due course to learning of the indicative date for the reopening of non-essential outlets in shopping centres and malls. Safety is the fundamental concern for all retailers and they have been working hard to implement the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures to operate safely over the past weeks.

“This a welcome vote of confidence in that effort and preparation. Now that we know which shops can open and when, retailers can begin communicating their plans with their workforces and customers.”

Mr Lonsdale said that shoppers should be prepared for shops to have different layouts and features such as one-way aisles and Plexiglass.

The SRC is also calling for a “clear plan” to be devised which would allow shoppers to travel to and through town and city centres across Scotland, as well as a short-term economic stimulus package to encourage customers to start shopping again.

The Federation of Small Businesses also broadly welcomed the move.

FSB director for the devolved nations Colin Borland said: “Some shopkeepers will be disappointed that this reopening is more than a week away, when many were primed for Monday.

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He added: “We understand the need to exercise caution. But the Scottish Government must provide sharper detail for businesses about the reopening programme.”

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, also welcomed the easing of measures which were set out at Holyrood.

“Many retailers will have some measure of relief to finally have a clearer idea of when they can reopen and what they will need to do to prepare for this while construction firms can now start working again,” she said.

“It will be a relief for many employers and will help to save jobs.”

CBI Scotland director Tracy Black said: “Progressing to phase two of the Scottish Government’s restart plan is a welcome step and gives more firms further clarity about when they can reopen their doors.

“While public health rightly remains the priority, the need for action to protect jobs and livelihoods is urgent.

With the latest GDP figures making for difficult reading, and redundancies likely to rise as government support winds down, the speed and joined-up nature of our response is critical to Scotland’s economic recovery.”

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