News release from 04/12/2020

Support for shops hoping to extend opening hours

Support for shops hoping to extend opening hours

South Cambridgeshire Councillors have responded to the Government’s temporary relaxation of retail opening hours to offer support to local businesses hoping to extend their opening hours during December and January.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that some planning conditions – such as those which limit opening hours – could be eased to allow shops to open for longer on Mondays to Saturdays through to January.

Any South Cambridgeshire businesses considering extending their opening hours are urged to carefully consider the impact this may have on any neighbouring residents, and to seek guidance from the Council’s dedicated Reopening the High Street Safely team, if needed, about how to do this in a considerate way: Reopening@scambs.gov.uk

The High Street team was established at the Council in the spring, thanks to European Regional Development Fund funding which was ring-fenced by the Government to support High Street businesses to safely reopen after the first lockdown. The team has been supporting customer-facing businesses to reopen safely and reassuring residents about the Covid-secure measures put in place – and extending opening hours is another way that businesses could help to make Christmas shopping safer for customers.

Residents are also being asked to consider staggering their usual shopping times, where possible due to extended hours, to help spread the numbers of people in stores at any one time.

Peter McDonald

Cllr Peter McDonald, Lead Cabinet Member for Business Recovery and Skills at South Cambridgeshire District Council (pictured above), said: “The Council is acutely aware of the difficult time retailers have been experiencing during 2020. As much of our retail sector reopens for the festive season, we want to make sure they have the support they need to do so in a way that is as safe as possible for their staff, as well as their customers. Extending opening hours may be one way that works – by providing some quieter off-peak times for people to browse. As a Council we are really sympathetic to this, but would ask businesses to meet us halfway and ensure any changes made to opening hours don’t negatively impact the local community.

“We know that the virus hasn’t gone away, and so we all need to play our part in taking the necessary precautions to avoid any increase in the number of cases as we emerge from lockdown. But we must also recognise that many people will want to get out and about and into the shops in person. In addition to all of the efforts already being made to make premises Covid-secure across the district, extending opening hours may be another way shops can make this experience safer for staff and shoppers alike.”

Cllr Dr. Tumi Hawkins, Lead Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “Our Reopening the High Street team is ready to support any shops making changes to their opening hours in light of the Government guidance. Should any issues arise, we will consider these sensitively. We want to support businesses at this vital time of year as they reopen in the run up to Christmas – but we ask that anyone choosing to extend their opening hours would be considerate of their neighbours. Our High Street team can offer some tips on how to do this, such as making sure to let neighbours know about any plans, and piloting extended hours to see whether it can be achieved successfully without negatively impacting others.”