Traders in Stansted prepare to welcome back customers with support of Uttlesford District Council's Covid team
Plans are under way to prepare businesses in Stansted for reopening as Covid restrictions start to ease.
Hand sanitising columns will be placed on the streets at the village's busiest spots – outside the railway station and in Cambridge Road – to help curb the spread of infection while traders will work with Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to ensure they have everything in place for when their doors open again.
The Government has set out its phased roadmap out of lockdown, with April 12 the date set for all non-essential shops and businesses, including hairdressers, beauty salons and nail bars, to begin welcoming customers once more.
Bob Goldsmith, information communications officer with UDC's Covid team, addressed a meeting of Stansted Parish Council to provide an update on how village traders had fared over the past year and to find out what help and support they might need.
"We are here to provide support and guidance to local businesses rather than taking any heavy-handed action and I would like to hear your views on where I should be putting my time," he said. "It's more important that I listen to what you think are the priorities."
Mr Goldsmith praised the efforts of YZ Mini Market in Chapel Hill throughout the pandemic and singled out King's Butchers in Lower Street and Steve Golding Greengrocers, also on Chapel Hill, for setting good examples.
"I've been working with YZ, who have been really good at extending their post office opening hours, and we've worked on improving how their queueing systems can work better – we're trying to work in a supportive way," he said.
"We've helped Yummy's Café [in Cambridge Road] to improve their floor markings and signposts, and are offering support to those trying to sort out their finances.
"You don't have many shops in Stansted, but they seem to be extremely well managed in terms of Covid."
Mr Goldsmith's only concerns centred on takeaways near the station, where footfall was significantly increased.
Councillors welcomed the idea of hand sanitisers and pledged to work closely with UDC, with the inclusion of Stansted Business Forum, to ensure information and support reached business owners.
Cllr Fran Richards said: "We ought to have sanitisers for both sides of the road outside Churchills Fish and Chips and Tesco Express so that people don't have to keep crossing backwards and forwards, and then one near Lower Street car park and the Co-op and the other side by the station."