Work is underway to make sure visitors can safely return to Darlington town centre once social distancing guidance is further relaxed and more shops and restaurants are able to open their doors.
The council’s town centre team are working closely with colleagues in transport, business support, health and safety and public health to come up with a long term plan to ensure shoppers can move about while maintaining distance, avoid large gatherings, and keeping the area clean.
Consultation and engagement has also taken place with a wide range of retailers, business owners and hospitality venues to ensure that all views and ideas are taken into account while the town returns to trading in an environment that is safe and welcoming.
A number of essential retailers and service providers, such as banks, the post office and pharmacies, have remained open throughout the pandemic and provided much needed support to residents.
The town centre team are looking to learn from their experiences during the lockdown period to pass on as best practice to those businesses looking to reopen safely.
A comprehensive plan is also being developed to keep people socially distanced while spending time in the town centre, which may include signage and additional seating.
Councillor Alan Marshall, cabinet member for the economy, said: “We are putting the wheels in motion now to make sure that we can welcome residents and visitors back to Darlington town centre as safely as possible once lockdown is further relaxed.
“Darlington’s retailers and service providers are the heart of the town centre. It’s vitally important that we support the shops, restaurants and services in our town once the situation improves if they are to recover, but we need to ensure that people feel confident while doing so.
“Our teams are looking at every aspect of a visit to the town centre, from parking to walking about and from sitting down for a rest to having a bite to eat.
“A number of businesses have remained open during the height of the pandemic, providing essential services, and we thank those staff who have done so much for so many, while perhaps putting themselves at risk.
“Darlington has shown itself to be resilient in so many ways during this situation and I’m confident that the town centre and its businesses will be no different.”
A number of businesses in the town have changed the way they work to offer delivery services during lockdown, including fashion outlets, gift and craft shops, restaurants and traders from the indoor market.
A full list of the many Darlington businesses that are offering local delivery, and their contact details, is regularly updated at https://www.enjoydarlington.co.uk/deliveries/
“Darlington has shown itself to be resilient in so many ways during this situation and I’m confident that the town centre and its businesses will be no different”
- Councillor Alan Marshall, cabinet member for economy