aerial view nantwich town centre

Cheshire East Council says it is preparing for the reopening of town centres like Nantwich and urging businesses to access support available.

All non-essential retail will reopen from Monday April 12, as well as restaurants, bars and cafes for outdoor table service and hair and nail salons, libraries, and gyms.

The council says it plans a public information campaign, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, to support businesses to welcome back customers safely.

The campaign will inform people of Covid-19 measures in place to protect them and precautions they need to take to aid the safe reopening of the borough’s 11 town centres, including Nantwich and Crewe.

And its temporary pavement licence scheme has been changed so it is now free for businesses to apply.

The licences, also known as ‘alfresco licences’, are valid until September 2022 and grant permission to set up temporary outside seating to allow for social distancing measures.

Frank Jordan, Cheshire East Council’s executive director for place, said: “We look forward to our town centres and high streets reopening but this must be done in a safe way, given the ongoing pandemic.

“Businesses have already been hit hard and are now having to adapt to what is a very different business landscape, while complying with a number of Covid-safe measures.

“The council’s regulatory services team is continuing to offer guidance and support to businesses regarding the current restrictions put in place by government and I urge them to get in touch if they have any questions or concerns – our officers are here to help.

shops markers social distancing“I would also like to appeal to the public to play their part in ensuring our town centres can reopen safely, by taking personal responsibility to help stop the spread of the virus.

“This includes wearing a face covering where necessary – including in shops – making sure they sanitise their hands and maintaining social distancing, which still applies with the rule of six.

“By adhering to the safety measures, people can relieve some of the pressure facing local businesses and not put them in the position of having to turn people away or face possible enforcement action.”

The council says it will work with town and parish councils to use a new stream of European Regional Development Funding (ERDF), through the ‘Welcome Back Fund’.

Cash will be used to support activities and initiatives that help local businesses prepare to reopen safely and successfully.

The council says it is developing “Town Centre Vitality Plans” which will identify potential initiatives to support businesses and the local economy moving forward.

Mr Jordan added: “The aim is to create exciting and vibrant places that increase footfall and activity.

“This builds on existing plans and projects we have been delivering across the borough.”

Meanwhile, the council is inviting applications for the government’s Restart Grant.

It has so far paid out more than £134 million in grants to Cheshire East businesses to help recovery and rebuild the local economy.

The Restart Grant scheme supports eligible non-essential retail businesses and hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses with one-off grants of up to £18,000 to help them reopen safely.

More information on support available to businesses can be found at: Business (cheshireeast.gov.uk)

For further details regarding the Restart Grant and how to apply, visit: Coronavirus (Covid-19) help for Business Rates customers (cheshireeast.gov.uk)

For further information about applying for a temporary pavement licence, visit: Pavement Cafes (cheshireeast.gov.uk)

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