As lockdown begins to ease it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to everyone’s lives. We have all had to make adjustments to the way we work, live, exercise and shop. Some of these adjustments have seen positive changes, such as shopping more locally and using independent traders.
The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, talks about the re-opening of high streets in Merton, the need to support local businesses, and staying safe when shopping.
Welcome everybody, and thank you for taking the time to watch this short video.
As I record this for you today, we’re about a week away from the high streets in Merton re-opening their doors.
We’re filming this, at a safe distance, in my local high street, just outside the council offices in Morden.
This is usually a thriving place, the tube station and bus stops behind us, and there are a diverse range of shops and other businesses. Many of these are small independently run enterprises.
I wanted to use this opportunity to remind you about what is being put in place to stay safe when you’re out and about, and what the rules are around ensuring safety in local shops and businesses.
In Merton we have 6,000 businesses of varying sizes, but a great proportion of those are small businesses; family firms; local companies who need our support.
During the last few months, some companies have completely changed the way they operate to help support the community through this difficult time. They’re making essential supplies available to housebound families, who were forced to become dependent on shopping locally. They are also delivering essential supplies to the doorsteps of vulnerable people who were unable to leave their homes.
As restrictions begin to be eased, I hope residents will continue to support the traders who have served them so well in the past. Please do support our businesses and shop locally.
It’s also great to see more local companies starting to open up again. As a business-friendly council. we’ve done what we can to help. We’ve given out more cash grants to businesses than almost any other London borough.
But the challenge is now, how to reopen the local economy during what is a very worrying time.
So I wanted to let you know what to expect.
We’re responsible for making sure the right businesses open a the right time, and for making sure they are putting your safety first.
Every shop that opens its doors needs to have completed a risk assessment of its premises. They need to have put in place measures to keep you and their staff safe. They can then , and only then display a Covid Secure poster in their window.
They need to take reasonable steps to maintain 2m distances, one way systems and have clear information to help you stay safe while you’re in the shop.
This week, we will be writing to every business in the borough, with clear guidance on what is expected of them. We will also be writing to them about how we will be carrying out spot checks and enforcement to ensure people are safe.
If you’re worried that anybody is contravening these rules, you can report them to us on our website: merton.gov.uk/coronavirus
Service businesses like restaurants and pubs which are due to open in early July. They will also have equally stringent measures when they re-open.
Finally, in helping you get around the borough as safely as possible, we’ve started making a range of improvements to roads and pavements.
We’ve installed temporary cycle lanes in many places, as well as widened pavements in high-footfall areas. This is not a one off, we will continue rolling out new improvements to every area of Merton over coming weeks and months.
Please make full use of this space and keep your distance from others – remember the virus is still out there.
If you are concerned about anything, you can look at guidance on our website: merton.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Thank you, and stay safe