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Coronavirus: Ilford businesses take steps to re-open safely to avoid another lockdown

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:00 10 June 2020

Special preparations are being made for nonessential shops to reopen on June 15. Picture: Dharam Sahdev

Special preparations are being made for nonessential shops to reopen on June 15. Picture: Dharam Sahdev

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As more businesses are set to re-open on Monday, Ilford BID and The Exchange Ilford lay out the steps they are taking to keep customers and staff safe.

Ilford BID director and Exchange Ilford general manager Sarah deCourcy Rolls said “'Every day is changing and we’'re all learning as we go along'.” Picture: Ilford BIDIlford BID director and Exchange Ilford general manager Sarah deCourcy Rolls said “'Every day is changing and we’'re all learning as we go along'.” Picture: Ilford BID

At the shopping centre there is a one-way system in place with hand-sanitiser stations at all entrances and messaging throughout reminding people to wash their hands regularly and to keep their distance from each other.

There are two-metre signs clearly marked throughout the centre and the messaging will match the same colours used by the council.

There will also be a three-colour footfall system which allows the Exchange to limit the number of people in the building and customers can see how busy the shopping centre is before attending.

Green will mean it is a quiet shopping time, while amber will mean it is approaching capacity and once it hits red the number of people admitted will be limited.

Cyril Bekoe (centre) said Ilford BID quickly realised it needed to change how it operated as a BID to support businesses during the pandemic. Picture: Ilford BIDCyril Bekoe (centre) said Ilford BID quickly realised it needed to change how it operated as a BID to support businesses during the pandemic. Picture: Ilford BID

Ilford BID director and Exchange Ilford general manager Sarah deCourcy Rolls said: “People are obviously used to being able to come in whenever they want so it’s important they know what we’re doing to keep the crowds down and ensure safety.

“Every day is changing and we’re all learning as we go along.”

There will be staff at the entrances managing the number of people in the Exchange and the green/amber/red messaging system will be posted on its website and social media so customers can check how busy it is from home.

Sarah said since work was already under way to redevelop the town centre, with collaboration between Ilford BID (Business Improvement District), Redbridge Council, Kenson Contractors and other partners they were at a better starting point to co-ordinate efforts to re-open safely.

There will be hygiene stations throughout the town centre and a one-way system to help the flow of pedestrian traffic. Picture: Ilford BIDThere will be hygiene stations throughout the town centre and a one-way system to help the flow of pedestrian traffic. Picture: Ilford BID

She said: “We are in the midst of developing Ilford as a town, with all the works like Crossrail. Despite these challenges we’re still working together and we’re already ahead of everyone else.

“In the Exchange we have been open throughout so we have been able to learn as we go, rather than being completely shut and then opening and everything is a surprise.”

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Ilford BID manager Cyril Bekoe said: “What we realised throughout the pandemic was businesses themselves had a lot of questions about what needed to be done so in a lot of ways we rapidly changed how we operate as a BID and looked at how we could support businesses.”

Social distancing markings inside shops will match what is outside so there is uniform style throughout. Picture: Ilford BIDSocial distancing markings inside shops will match what is outside so there is uniform style throughout. Picture: Ilford BID

Ilford BID gave out social distancing floor mats and provided security teams to support essential businesses that stayed open.

The BID also provided support webinars throughout lockdown to provide guidance on how businesses could come out of lockdown safely.

There will also be social distancing posters displayed throughout the town centre which will be in English and eight other languages.

Ilford BID is installing hygiene stations at key places throughout the town centre – outside Ilford station, in Cranbrook Road, in High Road and at Kenneth More Theatre.

Jonathan Yabsley, director of Kenson and Civil Highways, which is undertaking construction work for the transformation of the High Road, said while shops are starting to open up his workers are trying to maximise their output while being out of people’s way as much as possible.

Kenson is planning on having its visitor centre open on Monday, June 15 so people can come in and ask questions about how the town centre will look after renovations are completed.

Jonathan said restrictions put in place during lockdown have put it six to eight weeks behind schedule, but Kenson is hoping to catch up as social distancing measures are relaxed throughout the year.

Sarah said: “This is your town, your community, we want you to feel safe in it. We’re not just doing this as a tick-box exercise.

“We’re putting these things in to make your journey safer. We don’t want to be one of the towns that has to be locked down again.

“Every single person entering Ilford has a part to play in that.

“Don’t rush, don’t every single person come out on the first day and we end up back in lockdown.”


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