DUNDEE is sending out a “welcome back, stay safe” message as retail and hospitality businesses start the process of rebuilding following the closures imposed to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
Most non-essential shops will be allowed to open from Monday, while restaurants, pubs and visitor attractions will follow later in the country’s route map out of lockdown.
Work is well under way to prepare public areas for increasing numbers of people, with signs and floor markings encouraging social distancing and good hygiene practices.
People in Dundee and the surrounding areas are being encouraged to support local businesses wherever possible as the long recovery process begins.
Lord Provost Ian Borthwick said: “As the city starts to open up again following the unprecedented challenges of recent months, it’s important that we safely support our local businesses as much as we can.
“Lots of our local traders have found ways to adapt during lockdown, such as switching to online sales, and I know they have been well supported by the public.
“Business owners have also put a lot of work into measures to ensure the health and wellbeing of customers, and are now looking forward to safely and responsibly opening their doors once again.
“Our city centre in particular has lots of wide pavements and pedestrian areas, as well as green spaces such as Slessor Gardens, so we are confident that our community will be able to enjoy the area safely and responsibly.
“Some premises may look different to how you remember them, and have reduced hours or staff numbers. Please be considerate towards them and your fellow shoppers, following the guidance on physical distancing and hygiene at all times.”
The Scottish Government advises that people should wear face coverings in shops. Those who have COVID-19 symptoms and are self-isolating, and those who are in the shielding group, should not be going into shops.
Council staff have been working closely with shops and other businesses to help them be COVID-secure.
City centre stakeholders have been meeting regularly with the council in order to connect with each other and share the latest information on the recovery plan.
Developments to assist businesses includes a new marketing campaign and the exploration of a virtual marketplace, as well as radio links to the ambassadors and increased cleaning regimes.
A programme of street animation is also being considered over the summer to help create a holiday atmosphere in the city centre.
Some of the busier city centre streets will have specially-created “Sunny Dundee” floor markings to encourage distancing and safe pedestrian flows.
The Council is also working with bars, coffee shops and eateries to ensure appropriate additional outdoor seating is available when those businesses are able to reopen.
Funding from the Spaces for People programme will see the closure of Union Street to vehicles and its temporary transformation into a vibrant pedestrian hub.
Council leader John Alexander said: “This crisis has created challenges for every sector of the economy.
“We’re working with all of our partners to deliver a range of recovery plans, including supporting the city centre and shopping districts, tourism businesses, the culture sector and more.
“That has meant getting key areas ready for safe use by increasing numbers of people. Distinctive Sunny Dundee signage is being deployed, to encourage people to queue safely and follow one-way pedestrian flows.
“We’ll be ensuring that regular cleaning takes place in public areas and providing options for people to get around, including more cycle paths and pedestrian areas. In all of this, the safety of the public and workers is paramount.
“In line with the Scottish Government guidance, there will be a phased approach to the reopening of businesses, starting with most shops next week.
“Over time, we all look forward to seeing hospitality businesses follow suit, including a lively outdoor café and bar scene so people can once again safely enjoy all that Dundee has to offer.”
Under the One City, Many Discoveries banner, a Welcome Back campaign is being launched, including posters, radio and newspaper adverts and social media, which encourages people to safely start returning to the city centre.
Councillor Mark Flynn, depute convener of City Development, said: “We know how much people have missed the things we once took for granted – an afternoon at the shops, going out for a coffee or a meal and a few drinks.
“The work we and businesses are doing is about giving people the confidence that they can start to enjoy these activities safely as the easing of lockdown continues.
“In the longer term, visitors and tourists from further afield will start to return, but for now we’re welcoming people from Dundee and the surrounding areas back into the city centre.
“It’s part of a concerted effort to support all aspects of the city’s business community – one which has already seen us distribute over £23 million in business grants.
“There’s a long road ahead as we rebuild after the devastation of Coronavirus and lockdown. We need to be careful and stay safe, as we work to ultimately build back better.”
Pictures show Councillor Mark Flynn, depute convener of City Development, with one of the Sunny Dundee street markings and bus stop signage.