NORTHWICH town centre is hoping to return to something resembling normality in the coming weeks as ‘non-essential’ shops begin to reopen.

The Government say that because its five key tests to control coronavirus are being met, shops selling products including clothes, shoes, toys, furniture books and electronics can reopen from June 15.

Businesses can only open however once a risk assessment has been completed and if business owners are confident that the risk to customers can be managed.

Family-run Rosebank Sports and Wellbeing Centre is one of Northwich’s town centre stores that is planning to reopen from June 15, and it has a number of measures planned to safeguard shoppers.

“In order to keep you all safe and for us to be able to serve you, we’re putting social distancing measures in place throughout our shop,” said Jaynie Turner.

“We will have markings on the ground to keep you two metres apart from each other, a one-way system throughout the shop and a number of waiting bays where customers can sit and we can serve you.

“That way, everyone is getting the full service that they want.

“As well as that, we will have hand sanitising gel stations adopted around the shop.

“Obviously, your safety is paramount to us, but also, we miss you all very much and want to do everything we can to make everything feel more normal.

“We are really looking forward to seeing you all and hope to see you very soon.”

Other businesses are not so keen on reopening due to the risks associated with coronavirus and are planning to continue operating online for the time being.

Phil Bower, owner of Northwich Art Shop, told customers: “The retail sector has experienced many challenges over the years, but this one really takes the biscuit, and I know that retail is not alone in that, with levels of uncertainty reaching new never anticipated heights.

“Current advice suggests that we can open from June 15 along with other 'non-essential' retailers.

“From my perspective, I am not comfortable with the guidance and feel that it is still too early to open.

“Added to this, we are working our way through the guidance for opening and making adjustments to the way the shop will work for you once we do reopen, so in answer to so many questions ... no, we will not be opening our doors just yet.”

Northwich Art Shop joined thousands of retail businesses across the country who applied for a government grant to cope with the pressures of coronavirus, and subsequently received £10,000, which proved to be a real lifeline.

“It has also proved to be a seed fund for the setup of our new online store, which in turn has provided a valuable cashflow, and to fund the new infrastructure required to meet guidance in store for social distancing,” Phil added.

“In short, we are rolling on, and unless something drastic happens, we will survive.

“My son and I continue to be hard at work building our website, and our local deliveries have seen us travelling the length and breadth of our beautiful county.

“I am also pleased that we have seen our products going further afield with our flat rate shipping, and we intend to continue our free local delivery offering for the foreseeable future, even after we reopen.

“I know that many of our customers are still mandated to isolate or shield and that we have become an important access to materials and support.

“That goes both ways, and I thank you for your support from the bottom of my heart.”

If you are an independent business owner, feel free to share your plans for reopening and measures to keep customers safe in the comments section below.