Love it or loathe it, Oxford Street is back in action as non-essential shops get given the green light to reopen today (Monday June 15). But don’t expect it to look like the same old crowded thoroughfare you remember from the Before Times.
Last month, the government gave the thumbs up for non-essential shops to open again on Monday June 15, with social distancing and increased cleaning measures in place. This means Europe’s busiest shopping street looks very different from the last time you paid a visit. Rather than Oxford Street’s usual buskers and selfie-stick-waving tourists, you’re now more likely to come across hand-sanitising stations and pop-up PPE bins.
New West End Company, an organisation representing retailers, restaurateurs and hoteliers across Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street, set out plans detailing how the West End will reopen for business as lockdown eases. In a document called West End Reopening it says it will work with Westminster City Council to make sure the district is safe for shoppers.
Plans include installing hand-cleansing stations throughout the district and pavement stickers outlining queueing systems for shops. The company will also work with the council to supply face masks for the public and staff and PPE disposal bins across the district. You can also expect to see plenty of signs promoting social distancing and the streets will be thoroughly deep cleaned.
Shops have been advised to open from 11am and close between 5pm and 7pm, only allow returns and refunds at specific hours and to stop in-store sales and discounts to reduce long queues and overcrowding on the streets. There are reports saying that Primark on Oxford Street has already seen queues form outside its door as it reopened this morning.
Westminster City Council has started to widen pavements on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly and change traffic lanes into pedestrian walkways. Pop-up cycle lanes and extra bike parking will also be created in the West End.
Councillor Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council, said: ‘These bold plans are designed to ensure we are doing all we can to support the careful and safe reopening of Westminster for residents, visitors and workers as the lockdown eases. This is essential in order to kickstart the economy, whilst always putting safety first.’
Find out more about what shops will look like when they reopen.
Gearing up to go back to the shops? Grab a face mask from one of these London makers.