A timetable is beginning to take shape of how Keswick will slowly start emerging next week from commercial lockdown caused by coronavirus restrictions.
The first major move towards trade returning to the town centre, which has been largely deserted since March, could see Keswick market being held for the first time in more than two months on Thursday 4th June, with the Saturday market two days later. Allerdale Borough Council is officially due to take over the running of Keswick market from private company Geraud on 1st June.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday that open-air markets and open-air car showrooms can start trading again from Monday 1st June would also give the green light for Fiat Motor Co to re-open in Lake Road. The risk of transmission of the virus is lower in outdoor areas where social distancing can be easier to enforce.
Non-essential shops such as clothes and books stores across the nation are earmarked to re-open – if safe to do so – a fortnight later from Monday 15th June, signalling the start of a return of general shoppers to Keswick, but the Government has yet to announced when pubs, restaurants and bars can trade again.
However, pub giant J D Wetherspoon has already laid out detailed plans for the re-opening of the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in Bank Street, whenever that may be. A series of measures will be brought in to ensure that staff and customers are safe and that the pub complies with government restrictions when the go-ahead is given.
These will have a major impact on how the biggest pub in Keswick looks, with separate entrances and exits and screens at tills and at seating areas to help meet social distancing requirements, plus gloves, masks and protective eyewear for staff and hand sanitisers for customers. Table service will be brought in, with customers using an app so that staff can bring food and drink to them rather than visiting the bar.
Two people will also be taken on to ensure social distancing measures are maintained and that surfaces and touch points are cleaned regularly and every employee will complete a daily health assessment questionnaire to confirm they are fit to work, including having their temperature taken with a digital thermometer.
Chris Hugh, manager at The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, said: “At present the Government have not confirmed any reopening date for pubs. However, it is important that we are prepared for any announcement. We have spent a number of weeks consulting with staff who work in our pubs, as well as area managers in order to draw up our plans. The safety of staff and customers is paramount.”
All shops in England must meet coronavirus guidelines to protect shoppers are staff when re-opening is allowed from 15th June. In Keswick, only supermarkets and mini food stores have remained open, along with essentials like chemists, hardware and some takeaway businesses.
The Prime Minister, who allowed garden centres to re-open earlier this month, urged people to go to the shops to help the economy bounce back. He said: “I think that it’s early days but we are very much hoping there will be a bounce back over the next few months.”
A spokesman from Allerdale Borough Council said: “The council has been consulting its members and town councils and will consult traders about the reopening of our markets and how this can be done in a way which keeps staff, traders and members of the public as safe as possible. At the moment we are developing different options for how our markets may return but have no agreed date as to when they will resume.
“Markets in Allerdale were all suspended in March in line with Government advice and we remain committed to operating them successfully in the future. In the meantime we will support traders as much as we can through these challenging times. We are encouraging all businesses to check our website which has links to all the financial support available to them.”