Boris Johnson visits Westfield Stratford City ahead of reopening

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Westfield Stratford City to see the coronavirus measu

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Westfield Stratford City to see the coronavirus measures in place before the shopping centre reopens. Picture: John Nguyen/Daily Telegraph/PA - Credit: PA - DO NOT REUSE

Boris Johnson has said people should be able to “shop with confidence” when non-essential stores reopen in England.

Speaking during a visit to Westfield Stratford City on Sunday, June 14, the prime minister said he hoped to see a “gradual” build-up in the numbers of people returning to the high street.

“I am very optimistic about the opening up that is going to happen,” he said.

“I think people should shop and shop with confidence, but they should of course observe the rules on social distancing and do it as safely as possible.”

Mr Johnson said that “probably” fewer than one in 1,000 people were now infected with coronavirus, allowing “more margin for manoeuvre” in easing the two metre rule.

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“As we get the numbers down, so it becomes one in 1,000, one in 1,600, maybe fewer, your chances of being two metres, one metre or even a foot away from somebody who has the virus are obviously going down statistically, so you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre, and we’ll be looking at that and keeping it under constant review,” he said.

Monday, June 15 marks the first time that department stores and high street shops open in three months and many will have a new look with more spacious floor plans, limited numbers of customers and plenty of hand sanitiser stations.

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Businesses have had to ensure they are “Covid-secure” according to government guidelines, and many have been keen to stress the extra precautions they are taking, from deep cleaning stores to putting items that have been tried on or returned in quarantine.

Most retailers are emphasising a sensible approach, using floor markings and signs to remind people to keep two metres apart and regularly wash or sanitise their hands.

Some stores will be quarantining items after customers have browsed them, while others will be only opening half the available tills to ensure social distancing is maintained.

Many stores are encouraging customers to make purchases by contactless card payments, with some saying they will not accept cash at all.

Live footfall cameras will be in operation at Westfield to manage visitor numbers and safe distancing, with the shopping centre also making its car park cashless.

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