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Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company and chair of the Liverpool Visitor Economy Network ((LVEN), says the re-opening after lockdown will see the city draw on its experience of hosting major events, with partners sharing knowledge and expertise to ensure the safety of shoppers and staff.
Ideally the return to the city centre won’t be a rush. Bill says: “We want people to come back in a measured way.
“We’d ask people to plan their visit, check what they are looking for is open first and, to everyone, we’d urge ‘Be Kind, Be Patient, and Be Responsible.”
A co-ordinated approach is being taken for the re-opening with the council, Liverpool BID Company, Liverpool ONE, the Royal Albert Dock, Merseyside Police and Merseytravel, among others, all working together to ensure a consistent plan of action.
“We are working together like never before, and it’s the right way because we are all in this together, and together we can get the message out to shoppers and businesses to ‘Love Your Liverpool’ as it re-emerges.”
The joint approach will play a critical role on June 15 onwards, with a system in operation that would normally be reserved for major events like The Giants visit, Light-Night Liverpool or Pride in Liverpool.
Says Bill: “The city watch cameras we have will be monitored constantly, linking to police and other organisations.
“Having seen what’s been happening at places like IKEA and the queues for McDonald’s in Aintree earlier this week, it is important we are ready and prepared and that’s why we are dealing with the June 15 as a major event.
“Our newly-updated footfall cameras mean we have minute-by-minute live footfall information in the city centre so, for instance, if Church Street becomes too crowded we would be looking at measures to start diverting people away from there. We will be keeping an hourly watch.
“As I said, we are all in this together. It doesn’t benefit anyone if there’s a sudden rush, madness or mayhem, and then we get the R number racing away and we have to go back into lockdown again.”
But he stressed: “The main message revolves around the three hashtags: Be Patient. Be kind. Be responsible.”
New uniformed signage – ‘Love Your Liverpool’ – will be going out next week across all three areas: Liverpool ONE, Albert Dock and Liverpool City Centre.
And there will be new directional signs.
Liverpool ONE will be operating a one-way system especially on the upper levels of South John Street.
There will be floor markers marking the two-metre position and indicating where people are having to stand for queues. There will be an entrance queue position and an exit position.
Queues will be kept along the building lines and businesses will be asked to take responsibility for managing queues.
The Disability Act remains important, says Bill, and there is a duty of care to be met. First Aiders will be on duty to manage queues in hot weather and managing queues for elderly and disabled people.
Many of the measures are following government guidelines issued to offer safe working practices during Covid-19.
There is still the issue of how people will get into the city centre with buses still only operating at 20% because of social distancing; and because of car parking issues, people will be encouraged to use other forms of transport.
A series of FAQs will be produced to answer questions people may have, and they will be regularly updated and used by main stakeholders.
“We want to assure people of the safety of both shoppers and staff and encourage a sense of calm.
“Thankfully, we have gone away from the initial pandemic panic and we do want people to start coming back.”
While footfall figures in the city centre are 85% down year on year, says Bill, this week figures are up 20% on the previous week.
“People have started to come back but while we normally have measured footfall in millions, it’s now tens of thousands.
“In terms of recovery and the city thriving again, we are more likely to see a flat ‘U’ than a sharp ‘V’, a fall and straight back up again. We need clarity for the bars, restaurants and hotels and that is coming out slowly now.”
Put simply, Bill says: “The city centre will be open again. It will look a bit different. It will feel a bit different.
“People will see signs they don’t normally see.
“But we are getting used to queuing and other measures which have to be put in place – and it will be nice to see the city busy and alive again.
“And please remember, Be Kind, Be Patient, and Be Responsible.”
— The Guide Liverpool (@TheGuideLpool) June 6, 2020
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