Barnstaple’s town centre was bustling on Monday as shops began reopening from the coronavirus lockdown.
There was steady footfall in the High Street and Green Lanes Shopping Centre as non-essential shops were able to trade for the first time since March 23.
Retailers have had to introduce strict safety measures to ensure they are ‘Covid secure’ and are able to ensure social distancing.
Shoppers queued outside Primark before it opened its doors at 9am and people waited in lines at some of the more popular shopping spots as the morning progressed. Across town at Sports Direct there were long queues as the chain offered 50 per cent discount to NHS staff.
On the High Street, new signage is in place to remind people to ‘keep left’, and ensure they are socially distancing.
Barnstaple town centre manager Hannah Harrington said “It’s been busy, and we’ve seen queues develop outside certain shops, but it has been manageable.
“People are getting used to the guidance to walk left if they can, which creates more space for everybody walking up and down the high street and keeping everybody safe.
“Businesses have had to put lots of measures in place to be able to open and it’s taken a huge amount of work to make things safe for customers and employees. It’s all slightly different in appearance but people are getting used to it.
“Our local shops have put a lot of effort into ensuring they can keep people safe, so it’s a great time to come and support them.”
Green Lanes Shopping Centre reopened to the wider public on Monday, with a one-way system in place and hand sanitising stations at its entrance, as well as two-metre markers on the floors on the concourse and for people queuing outside shops.
Shops inside the centre are making their own adjustments to welcome customers, and while not all were open on Monday, the majority are expected to be open by the end of the week.
Centre manager Craig Bulley asked shoppers to be understanding and patient as everyone gets used to a new way of shopping in line with the Government’s guidance.
“We are putting systems in place that allow people to shop as safely as possible in the circumstances,” he said.
“Everything is under review – if we can tweak things we will, but it’s safety first.”