Seafront businesses up and down the east coast have begun the “small steps” of re-opening, using retail outlets to gauge how social distancing measures can be effectively applied, ahead of a potential return in early July.
Seafront attractions across the UK have begun the slow process of re-opening their doors this week, with retail units proving a key testing ground for how new social distancing measures will work.
Great Yarmouth’s Pleasure Beach confirmed ”we will be ready to open” by 11 July, while Skegness Pier starts serving customers as of 15 June. However Fantasy Island’s outdoor market has already led the charge.
“I’ve been watching the government announcements every day for new guidance to help us get open,” director of marketings Paige Megan Harris told the Skegness Standard. “The safety of the traders, our staff and our customers are our priority and we have spent hours working on the strategy with signage and one-way systems.”
“Since we opened we have had a good few visitors – but what we haven’t wanted to do is attract massive gatherings. We can’t wait to welcome everyone back but only when it is safe.”
Though not all traders returned immediately, the market was well-represented by a number of stands, all maintaining strict social distancing, while staff at the entrance took temperatures and ensured guests were adequately protected.
“I’m pleased to be open, Fantasy Island has done it properly,” said long-time trader Stephen Haydon. “They have got us back to work.”
“Everything is signed up. They have done it well. The traders are working with Fantasy Island – we’re working together.”
Further down the coast, Skegness Pier is also preparing to re-open a number of its retail units in a bid to help local seafront business recover.
“In line with the Government’s latest advice, following strict hygiene procedures, we will be opening the following sections of Skegness Pier from 15 June,” stated a spokesperson via social media, adding the Pier Casino, Cheryl’s Pier Kiosk, Whippy Dippy’s Snack Station, and Woods Beach shop will be the first to welcome guests.
“Until further government advice is given, we are unsure of an exact date that we will be able to open other facilities.”
Though for both locations the “non-essential” shop facilities are acting as a bellwether for full trading, further down the east coast Great Yarmouth’s Pleasure Beach has set 11 July as the date for full re-opening.
“There’s been a lot of planning behind the scenes, and if the government sticks to its plan to re-open hospitality and leisure by 4 July, we believe we will be ready to open by 11 July,” owner Albert Jones told the Great Yarmouth Mercury.
“We’re taking some of our staff off furlough tomorrow in preparation for that date.”
Government consistency depending, the park will ask visitors to pre-book and prepay for a three hour slot, with guests emailed a QR code designating which gate to use for entry.
“You may arrive at this gate 20 minutes prior to your chosen session start time and social distancing must be adhered to,” state the new measures, posted via social media.
“All members on the booking must be present at time of entry. Once the QR code is scanned, it will automatically become invalid for further use.”