Date: 29 Apr 2021
The Lord Mayor of Belfast Alderman Frank McCoubrey has hailed this Friday a “significant day” in the city’s post-Covid recovery, as retailers get ready to reopen their doors.
“It has been fantastic to see some businesses reopening last week, and this Friday will be another significant day on our recovery journey, when we will see non-essential retailers being able to open their doors again as restrictions are eased,” said Alderman McCoubrey.
“Businesses have worked hard to ensure that they can reopen safely and are ready to welcome back their customers, and they are to be commended for all they have done to put measures in place to help staff and customers stay safe. But I also want to remind everyone that it is still vitally important to continue following the public health advice.”
“It has been a very difficult and challenging 12 months for the city’s business community; retail, hospitality and tourism have all been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic, and the easing of restrictions by the Executive has been hard-won. The last thing we want is for people to become complacent,” Alderman McCoubrey added.
“Council and our city partners are doing all we can to help Belfast stay safe but we all must play our part in helping to keep transmission rates in our communities to a minimum, and protecting our families and loved ones; please continue to wear a mask, keep your distance and wash or sanitise hands often.”
Retailers have been invited to sign up to a Covid Aware scheme to give shoppers and customers reassurance that businesses are aware of and are complying with the NI Executive's regulations and public health Covid19 guidance. The scheme was developed with the support of industry representatives and businesses taking part will display a sticker on their premises.
Belfast City Council has also installed 30 hand sanitising stations at locations across the city centre supported by signage reminding people to continue social distancing. Council officers will be working with their PSNI colleagues to visit premises to help provide support around compliance, and neighbourhood officers will also be helping to monitor reopening across the city to encourage compliance.
Alderman McCoubrey added: “While challenges undoubtedly remain, I think we can all start to feel a bit more hopeful that brighter days are ahead and slowly but surely the city will once again be thriving. As a Council, we want to continue working with our city partners to ensure we are doing all we can to support all those sectors that have been hardest hit over the last year. It will be a marathon, not a sprint; and we also must see this as an opportunity – not to just get things back to how they were, but to look at how we use our city centres and public spaces as we move ahead on our recovery journey.”
Kathleen McBride, Managing Director of Belfast One Business Improvement District said: “We have been working closely with Belfast City Council and other city stakeholders to ensure we’re aligned with our safety message, which very much focuses on customer confidence.
“This weekend is a significant step forward as restrictions ease and our retail and hospitality sectors reopen their doors. We know businesses have been working hard to introduce measures to help keep staff and customers safe, and it’s great to see retailers sign up to the Covid Aware scheme giving shoppers reassurance that businesses are complying with the current Covid19 guidance.
“We know people are looking forward to returning for shopping and socialising in the city centre, and we look forward to seeing the city thriving and vibrant once again.”
For more information on the Covid Aware scheme for retailers, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/covidaware