Oxford Street returns in earnest on June 15.
The return of non-essential stores on June 15 also signals the return of London’s famous shopping areas, albeit in a slightly different guise to before the pandemic. Covent Garden has already unveiled their plans to reopen, making use of a one-way system and new outdoor area, and now Oxford Street has revealed how the area will welcome shoppers safely.
New West End Company, a business partnership which represents shops and businesses across Oxford Street, Bond Street, and Regent Street, has recently published guidelines for how the shopping areas will be safely reopened – an important move, given how busy these places tend to get. There are plenty of changes afoot, and it begins with the layout of the streets themselves. Along Oxford Street, laybys and bus pull-ins will now be barriered off, meaning that whilst buses can still use them, pedestrians will also be allowed to walk in them if needed.
Regent Street, meanwhile, will have one lane of traffic closed in each direction to allow for a wider pedestrian space, and Oxford Circus, where the two aforementioned streets meet, will feature road barriers on the north and south sides of Regent Street to accommodate walkers. The widening of pavements is in place to accommodate an increasing volume of people whilst still hewing to social distancing measures, but the plans go beyond that.
A series of hand sanitiser points will be spread across the area, with eight on Oxford Street, four on Bond Street, five on Regent Street, and several more popping up along the more well-trodden backstreets. Face masks will be supplied for members of the public and shop employees, and PPE disposal bins throughout the district should hopefully prevent any excess littering as people discard used masks. Signage is also getting an overhaul, with directions given to nearby open spaces, and walking distances mapped out in order to decrease a reliance on public transport. Pavement stickers will be used to ensure responsible, socially distanced queuing.
The new protocols are topped off by enhanced street cleaning regimes, and full capacity work for the district’s security team. 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. They’re also advising stores to run discounts and offers online rather than in-store, in a bid to prevent overcrowding. Whatever your thoughts on Oxford Street before this (and every Londoner certainly has them), it’s a brave new world for the shopping paradise…
Also published on Medium.