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Boost for Barking economy as Vicarage Field set for careful reopening

PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:09 10 June 2020

Vicarage Field in Barking is set to reopen for non-essential shops next Monday June 15th. Picture: Ken Mears

Vicarage Field in Barking is set to reopen for non-essential shops next Monday June 15th. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

The Vicarage Field shopping centre is set to open for non-essential shops next Monday, June 15, as careful reopening plans gather pace.

Simon Green, director of Vicarage Field shopping centre. Picture: Ken MearsSimon Green, director of Vicarage Field shopping centre. Picture: Ken Mears

Centre director Simon Green told the Post that no chances are being taken: “Vinyl decals are all being fitted to the floors to advise people.

“The focus is on managing movement; certain parts of the shopping centre will be one way, with other parts left only. There will be no mall stalls at first to see how it goes, and we have removed the children’s rides to mitigate the risk.

“The main question we ask is ‘What is the possibility of this to cause harm?’”

Simon and his team have been working steadily to lay the groundwork; with the reopening firmly in sight, he says there are still “1,001 things to think about”. One consideration is capacity; to ensure social distancing, the centre will begin by only admitting 1,325 people, half its maximum.

The number of people in the centre only exceeded the 1,325 quota on four half-hour occasions each day, according to the average footfall for the same period last year.

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Simon also revealed that both security and retailers are undergoing training to “get ready”; security are doing face-to-face sessions, with retailers undertaking government-mandated training in order to display a “Covid-secure” poster in their window.

Public toilets will not open, though Radar facilities will be available when required.

Simon hopes these measures will reassure customers that every possible safety measure is being taken.

The director also offered an update on the popular free parking scheme for key workers: “As of June 20, we are giving away £20,000 worth of free parking.”

When announced, the initiative was only meant for 120 workers, but a deluge of applications meant that 220 people will enjoy free parking until the end of the month.

This reopening will hugely boost the area, according to Jamie Banks, president of the Barking and Dagenham Chamber of Commerce, who said: “This is long-awaited by the local economy.

“The chamber and its business members encourage everyone to shop and do business locally, to support local businesses and secure local jobs.”


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