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Traders look to avoid a big market squeeze

Social distancing concerns over return of retail units

29 May, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

David Twydell: ‘Our main concern is the health and safety of us and our customers’

CONCERN is growing over how social distancing measures will work once shops reopen in Chapel Market next month.

Stallholders welcomed the news that open air markets can reopen from Monday, as long as space and queuing rules are in place.

Traders have been asked to spread out to ensure there is enough space for customers to shop in safety and the council has also started widening pavements.

However, when the shops begin to open there are concerns each one will want to stagger a queue along the footway, potentially overlapping.

“Our main concern is the health and safety of us and our customers,” said traders’ association chief David Twydell.

“Unfortunately, some stalls may have to move their pitches for the time being. It’s all down one end of the street at the moment but that’s not going to work out with social distancing rules. Some stalls will have to move up the street to make it work.”

“Footfall isn’t the same at the moment, but the whole country is in the same situation. It’s not just us that’s going to suffer, all businesses are. It’s not going to be the same for months.”

The retail units in Chapel Market are scheduled to reopen on June 15.

“The queues from the supermarkets have been an issue with some traders,” said Mr Twydell.

“The way it’s panning out there is enough room for both sets of queues, but it could become a bigger issue as more shops open.”

Alex Hicks, another trader, also wrote to the Tribune expressing his concerns over supermarket queues in Chapel Market.

“I now hear stalls are being asked to move further along Chapel Market, where footfall is much lower and will impact their sales, to accommodate supermarket queues,” he said.

“Why are large retailers being prioritised over smaller, safer local businesses?”

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the borough’s markets and retailers will be open again soon. We are currently working up plans to ensure that they can do so safely and with the required social distancing measures in place.

“We are also increasing pedestrian space and widening pavements in shopping areas where we know it gets very busy, for example at Holloway Road and Seven Sisters Road.

“As more and more businesses re-open we will continue to look for further measures and ­other areas that would benefit from social distancing measures.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the move to allow non-essential shops to open on June 15 was “contingent on progress in the fight against coronavirus”.

These include charity shops, fashion retailers, mobile phone stores and bookmakers.

Car showrooms were permitted to return earlier, on Monday.

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