New Covid Safe scheme aims to increase confidence to visit local shops and venues

September 29, 2020 - 12:00am

New Covid Safe scheme aims to increase confidence  to visit local shops and venues

Lancaster City Council has officially launched a new accreditation scheme to support local businesses and give shoppers the confidence they need to return to the high street.

The aim of the scheme, which is free to join, is to reassure customers that an establishment has in place the necessary risk assessment, safety measures and staff training to operate safely.

In turn, the council hopes this will provide people with the reassurance they need to return to shops, bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants and other venues, to boost the local economy.

Following a successful pilot, the first seven businesses have received their Covid Safe awards.

To qualify, they had to have in place a comprehensive Covid-19 risk assessment, put in place appropriate controls, train staff so they understand Covid control measures, and comply with government and trade guidance to operate safely.

Councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox, cabinet member with responsibility for sustainable economic prosperity, said: “The lockdown has had a major impact on our local businesses and consumer confidence has not yet fully returned.

“Our local businesses have already spent time, effort and money on making their premises as safe as possible for their customers and staff, but the public health emergency has not ended, and the impact is a reluctance for consumers to return to our shops and venues.

“The council's and businesses’ response to Covid-19 is an evolving situation, and as such, safety can never be completely guaranteed. However, it’s very important that we aim to introduce consistency in how shops and venues operate.

“The aim of the Covid Safe scheme is to help reassure the public that establishments have in place all reasonable measures and controls so that customers and staff feel safeguarded when in the venue.”

A key part of the scheme is feedback from the public to monitor those taking part for continued compliance and the council’s public protection staff will carry out random visits to venues, as well as responding to poor customer feedback.

Customers are being urged that, if they see one of the Covid Safe certificates in the window of a business, to scan the QR code, which will take them to a short survey and the opportunity to rate the business against key control measures.

The scheme has the backing of Lancaster & District Chamber of Commerce, the Business Improvement Districts in Lancaster and Morecambe, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancashire Constabulary and Lancashire County Council.

Vicky Lofthouse, CEO of Lancaster & District Chamber of Commerce said: “We are pleased to support the new Covid Safe Scheme and urge businesses to get involved.  Businesses are playing a key role in this fight against Covid-19 and the Covid Safe scheme is a great tool for their armoury.  It helps to reassure customers and employees, as well as business owners and managers, that everything is being done to make the business as safe as possible.”

Kath Simpson, from Giggles Play and Adventure Ltd, added: “The past six months have been very challenging and we continued to remain positive, working hard to ensure that when we did reopen we could do it in a safe and secure environment.

“Lancaster City Council and the Environmental Health Officer have been invaluable with assisting us with the changing guidelines and regulations. 

“We are very proud to have received the Covid Safe award issued by Lancaster City Council which refreshes and highlights our commitment to keep the Giggles team and our customers safe and secure in these unprecedented times.”

Tim Tomlinson, from the White Cross in Lancaster, said: “Lancaster Pub Watch and the city council have worked closely together to make sure all our premises are safe and compliant  with the current regulations. 

“The Covid Safe award is the stamp of approval which will give customers the confidence to shop, eat out or go for a drink in any accredited venue knowing the required conditions are being met and regularly checked.  I am sure this will help give a lift to all the accredited business during these difficult times.”

For more information on the free scheme and how to take part visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/covidsafe.