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How the Bridges looks to Sunderland shoppers ready for the reopening of non-essential stores from Monday

It’s a sign of the times – the Bridges has been decked out in notices throughout the centre as it gets ready to see dozens of stores reopen.

By Fiona Thompson
Friday, 12th June 2020, 4:16 pm
Updated Saturday, 13th June 2020, 11:19 am

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The Sunderland centre has been open during the lockdown, with only essential stores – including Tesco, Iceland, Boots, Savers, Superdrug and Holland and Barrett, open to customers, while its Starbucks has been taking orders via its app.

But from Monday, June 15, it expects the majority of its 80-plus stores to welcome back shoppers after the Government announced other retailers could trade again under coronavirus social distancing guidelines.

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This is how shopping in the Bridges will look as more stores get set to reopen
Signs have been put on the floor throughout the Bridges to set out the social distancing measures ahead of the opening of non-essential retail from Monday.

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A one-way system has already been mapped out throughout its mall, with entrances marked up with entrance and exit signs, while notices have been put up to remind people to keep their 2-metre distance from others and stick to the right route.

A dedicated cleaning team will be keeping touchpoints, such as doors, railings and ATM and lift buttons, sanitised, with the toilets and baby changing facilities to be open again, with the door to be manned to ensure a one-in-one-out flow.

Sanitisation stations will also be in place so people can clean their hands as they arrive and leave.

Areas have also been taped out on the floor outside some stores to help people queue, while the decision has been taken to only admit shoppers into Primark from its High Street West entrance, as the door into the centre is a busy area where people have wait to get into the two supermarkets.

A one-day system has been napped out inside the centre.

The team hope people will take note of the measures with security officers and other staff on hand to help remind people about the guidelines.

Jacky White's Market, run by Sunderland City Council, also has a one-way system and exit and entrance, with stalls expected to rejoin Thorburn’s and Ibbitson’s, which have remained open during the lockdown.

Samantha Czwordon-Auld, the centre's marketing and communications manager, is a member of the COVID-19 taskforce which has been working on plans to help support the city centre through the crisis.

People will be asked to keep to the one-way system as bosses at the Bridges set out measures to keep people 2-metres apart.

She said: “We can’t enforce anything, but we have followed the guidelines, as they are up and down the country, and we have done everything we can to make sure people are respectful to each other and to our staff.

“Everything has been done to prevent the spread of infection, plain and simple.”

Debenhams, which this week confirmed its Metrocentre store would not be reopening, has already confirmed its Wearside branch would be open again from Wednesday, June 17.

The Bridges marketing and communications manager Samantha Czwordon-Auld is a member of the COVID-19 taskforce which is working to keep people safe during their visit to the city centre.

Bosses have the Bridges have said customers should check the times of retailers they wish to visit in case their hours have changed and while they are looking forward to seeing most open, some companies have furloughed staff, which means it is not possible to confirm each one will be trading.

The centre will be open from 9am on Monday, with more information available here.

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The cleaning team is already working hard to keep the centre sanitised.