Shops, hairdressers, barbers, beauty salons, gyms and outdoor hospitality businesses in Blackburn and Darwen Town centres gave customers a warm welcome back today as they re-open their doors.
From today, Monday, 12 April, non-essential retail stores, close contact services and gyms and fitness studios were able to lift their shutters and opening their doors to customers for the first time in months.
Staff have been back in stores last week, excitedly making preparations and making sure their businesses are safe and inviting for the re-opening.
Visitors were be welcomed back into the town centres with brightly coloured ‘Welcome Back’ signage, a beautifully deep cleaned King William St, and amazing new artwork on Lord St West created by local Artist Alexandra Gallagher.
Safety & Security Ambassadors will be on hand supporting visitors and businesses with covid-safety.
What you can expect to see:
- 10 new ambassadors across both Blackburn and Darwen to support the re-opening, welcome visitors back and provide reassurance, alongside an enhanced police presence to make everyone feel safe.
- A package of ongoing support and advice for businesses to help them re-open safely from the Council and its key partners, the BID and The Mall.
- Sprucing up the town centres with enhanced cleaning, gardening and painting of benches, and general maintenance of our pedestrian friendly streets to ensure there are lots of attractive areas to sit outside safely.
Blackburn BID will be sharing news and offers via their Experience Blackburn free mobile app and social media channels.
Catherine Price, Blackburn BID Manager, said:
We are all looking forward to welcoming visitors back, safely, to Blackburn town centre. We want to show that visiting your local town centre is an enjoyable, beneficial and rewarding experience which cannot be replicated online or at home.
Blackburn BID is working with partners on a summer of Covid-secure events and activities – the first of which will be The Blackburn Drive-In Experience 2021. The all singing, all dancing drive-in show will be held in the town centre from 7 to 9 May 2021 and costs just £30 per car. Tickets are available via King George’s Hall.
Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Town Centres Manager, Clare Turner, said:
There’s lots of excitement ready for the re-opening of our town centres today.
Our shops and businesses are really looking forward to welcoming everyone back.
We are positive and hopeful for the future with the measures we have in place as there’s been a full review prior to re-opening.
Protocols have been introduced to allow safely managed customer footfall through the town centres in the coming months.
There will be regular deep cleans, tannoy announcements, capacity limits and ensuring social distancing for everyone.
We’ll also be asking people to come during quieter hours where they can do so.
We’re still asking people, where they can, to wear their face covering. That’s really important to us, as we want people to feel confident in our safety measures and for everyone who comes to our town centres and works here to feel reassured that they are a safe place to shop.
Outdoor beer gardens and restaurant terraces were also allowed to re-open, but indoor restaurants will have to wait until mid-May at the earliest to start trading again.
Some new seating will be added outside to allow people to sit and eat their meals. Businesses that can have provided tables and chairs outside – don’t forget to come prepared for the Great British weather!
Loraine Jones, General Manager for The Mall Blackburn, added:
“Access to the centre will be closely monitored using our traffic light system, with visitor capacity carefully managed to maintain social distancing to protect our visitors, retailers and staff. We will be communicating on our social media channels the best time to shop.
“We want everyone to feel as safe as possible so let’s continue to protect each other and remember the guidelines that are in place – Hands, Face, Space.
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming you back.”
There’s lots of new activities planned in the next few weeks including the BID’s Drive in Experience in Blackburn Town Centre, The National Festival of Making’s ‘Of Earth and Sky’ poetry installation around Blackburn and Darwen, the Creative Art Spaces project in Blackburn Town Centre and Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery coming to Blackburn Market for 3 weeks.
Many more activities are planned over the rest of the spring and summer, and with rapid-testing hubs conveniently located at King Georges Hall and Work at Over Darwen House in the town centres, it’s easy to pop and get a symptom-free test before you come to visit!
People without symptoms can also access free, regular, rapid testing kits in a number of other ways too:
- Order online via the national delivery service to receive a home-testing kit.
- Community Collect – pick up kits in person (no appointment needed) from the rapid test hubs at King George’s Hall, Ewood Park and Work at Over Darwen House during opening hours OR from Old Bank Lane, Blackburn College and Railway Road PCR test sites after 1pm.
- Pharmacy Collect service via participating local pharmacies.
The Council is encouraging everyone to take up the offer and participate in ‘Test and Go’ as we enter this next stage of the roadmap.