Oxford Street is back to business on June 15 – after making big changes and introducing a new protocols.
The return of non-essential shops on June 15 also marks the revival of the iconic shopping centres in London, although in a somewhat different way than before the pandemic. Covent Garden has also announced its plans for reopening, including use of a one-way network and new outdoor area, and Oxford Street has now announced how the city can safely receive customers.
New West End Company, a business partnership that represents shops and businesses across Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street, recently released guidelines on how to safely reopen shops and restaurants – an important move, given how busy these places tend to get. There are plenty of changes underway and it starts with the street layout itself. Laybys and bus pull-ins are now being barriered off along Oxford Street, meaning that although buses will still use them, if required, people will now be able to walk in them.
Regent Street, meanwhile, will have one traffic lane closed in each direction to allow a wider pedestrian space, and Oxford Circus, where the two aforementioned streets meet, will feature road barriers on Regent Street’s north and south sides to accommodate walkers in. The expansion of pavements is in place to accommodate the high volume of people while still adhering to measures of social distance, but the plans go beyond that.
There will be a series of hand sanitizer points all throughout area, with eight on Oxford Street, four on Bond Street, five on Regent Street, and a few more popping up along the more well-trodden side streets.
Face masks should be provided to members of the public and shop workers, and possibly PPE bins in the area will avoid any unnecessary littering when residents remove used masks. Signage is now undergoing an update, including signs for local open spaces and marked walking distances to reduce public transit reliance. Pavement stickers are used to guarantee responsible, socially distant queuing.
Added to the new protocols are enhanced street cleaning regimes and full capacity work for the security team of the district. The document, which you can read here, also advises shops to open at 11am and close between 5-7pm, and recommends that specific hours for refunds and returns be implemented.
In a effort to avoid overcrowding, they also encourage retailers to run discounts and promotions online rather than in-store. Whatever your thoughts on Oxford Street before this (and surely every Londoner has them), for the shopping paradise is a new era …
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