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Lord Mayor shows support for independent retailers as city reopens

Date: 26 Jun 2020

Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey has been visiting retailers across the city this week as businesses begin to reopen to the public.

Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey has been visiting retailers across the city this week as businesses begin to reopen to the public.

Following a walkabout in the city centre last week, Alderman McCoubrey visited a number of independent retailers in the east and north of the city to hear first-hand about some of the challenges they have been faced with, as they start to welcome their customers back safely.

Alderman McCoubrey said: “Independent retailers play such an important role in the city, and they are at the heart of their communities; people rely on them. It has been an exceptionally difficult time for businesses and local retail but I’m really pleased that we are starting to move in the right direction, and we are beginning to see shops across the city reopen their doors.

“Retailers have worked hard to introduce measures to protect staff and customers; and while it has been a challenge for everyone to get back up and running, I think people are accepting of the new arrangements and understand that they’re in place to keep everyone safe.

“Every business has been affected by this in some way or another, but I am really pleased that there is still so much positivity among our business community.”

Chief Executive of Retail NI, Glyn Roberts said: “It’s fantastic to see local traders across the city beginning to reopen their doors to the public. The COVID-19 crisis has had a severe impact on our independent retailers but the resilience they’ve shown throughout the lockdown period has been outstanding. A tremendous amount of work and effort has gone into making stores safe for staff and customers, giving shoppers the confidence to come out and spend. I would encourage everyone to shop local and support our small independent retailers who play such a vital role in our city.”

Earlier this week, Belfast City Council released a video showing the city taking its first steps on the recovery journey, as lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

Alderman McCoubrey added: “We want people to feel confident that when they do decide to come into the city, Council and its city partners have been working hard to keep people safe, and measures are being taken to protect the health of workers and the general public.

“We have seen huge support for our new ‘confidence mark’- a visual reminder for customers that businesses are taking measures to keep people safe and following guidance on social distancing.

“It’s encouraging that we’re starting to move in the right direction and we wanted to show the public that Belfast is very much open and ready to welcome people back. But it is one step at a time and we’re reminding people that things will look slightly different, but with patience and positivity, we can take on the challenges that lie ahead, together.”

Businesses can collect a confidence mark sticker from the Welcome Centre at Visit Belfast. The Welcome Centre is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am until 5pm.

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