BOSSES at The Ryemarket are urging people to shop alone when the shopping centre re-opens next week as coronavirus lockdown measures lift.

The town shopping centre is preparing for the re-opening of non essential shops from Monday June 15 but the shopping experience will be a far cry from how many remember it.

A new list of guidelines has been put together to help ensure customers and staff can stay safely apart through social distancing so that people can minimise their risk of catching COVID-19.

Families will be asked to send just one shopper to the mall per household, while benches in the centre will be removed to help keep customers flowing through the centre and enable socially distanced queuing outside shops.

Centre manager Kelley Dyas said: "We would like to take this opportunity to explain why some of the guidelines have had to be implemented as we hope that will help people understand the need for them during these unprecedented times as we are all having to adapt to a new normal.

"The one person per household where possible rule, which we know is the most difficult for people to understand as shopping has always been a very social activity, is due to the centre and retailers' capacity for customers due to social distancing regulations. If families are all coming together it adds to the queues we have been seeing so would ask if people can please just send one member of the household to visit at a time."

Markings will also be placed on the floor to direct shoppers to queue two metres apart from each other. Kelley added: "Due to social distancing capacity of stores we have had to come up with a way of queuing people on the mall. We will be indicating queuing spaces with spots on the floor and would ask if there is No Spot No Stop, so we can keep the centre flowing to enable social distancing."

Hand sanitiser will be provided at the entrance and exits to the centre and shoppers will be urged to follow the guidelines of individual retailers when entering their stores.

Elderly shoppers needing a rest while out will be directed to benches outside the Ryemarket in Fountain Square by Boots and the grounds of St Thomas's Church Hall in Market Street as the benches inside the centre are being removed temporarily to help people stay a healthy distance apart.

Kelley said: "We have had to take the difficult decision to take out the benches at the centre for a short time while social distancing measures are in place. There are a few reasons why we have taken this decision now, the first being these are now pinch points where people are stopping to chat - causing bottle necks in the mall and leaving it awkward for social distancing. This will be heightened when other retailers open and we potentially have queues on both sides of the mall."

She added: “Like everyone else we are coming to terms with the new guidelines and have desperately tried to keep the centre as normal as possible, but when you are talking about thousands of people visiting daily we have had to adapt and we hope our visitors can see the bigger picture of why we ask for diligence to follow the guidelines at this time.”

WHSmith, Peacocks, Hallmark, Bodycare, Card Factory, Fair and Square and Jewellery Inspired are among the non essential retailers planning to re-open in The Ryemarket next week.

The council car park in The Ryemarket will be open during centre opening times - 7.30am to 8.30pm Monday to Saturday and 9am to 5pm on Sundays, with parking remaining free until July.

Coffee shops in The Ryemarket will not be re-opening just yet but are believed to be gearing up for the start of July.