Shoppers across Scotland are being urged to think safety first and stay local in the Christmas countdown as new coronavirus restrictions come into force.
Town centre chiefs have issued the plea ahead of the final shopping weekend before the festive break, traditionally one of the busiest of the year. And they have asked customers to follow the enhanced safety and social distancing measures in place at shops and hospitality venues to help curb the spread of the Omicron variant.
The Scotland Loves Local campaign, spearheaded by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) with support from the Scottish Government, urges people across the country to choose local to help their community respond to and recover from the ongoing challenges caused by Covid-19.
STP Chief Officer Phil Prentice said: “With the festive season critical to the survival of so many local businesses, we are urging people to shop locally - but to do so sensibly and safely.
“Throughout the pandemic, businesses in our communities have worked tirelessly to create safe places in which to shop and visit. Where they have needed to make changes as a result of the new Scottish Government guidelines this week, they have moved quickly to do so.
“They have done this so that they can protect customers and be there for us. It’s vital for our local economies that we choose local and be there for them.
“Where people perhaps don’t currently feel comfortable visiting places, please do not forget that most local businesses now have great websites from which you can place orders. You can shop locally while shopping online.”
People can also get behind shops, venues and attractions in their region by buying a Scotland Loves Local Gift Card as a present, giving loved ones and friends a chance to go out and support others in their community in the new year.
As part of the new guidance from the Scottish Government, retailers are being encouraged to use the likes of tannoy systems, signage, floor markings and queue management systems to keep people at a safe distance.
Where possible, places have been asked to use separate entrance and exit points. Steps will be taken to control capacities inside stores and the flow of people through them. While most have kept protective screens in place, they have returned to all tills and checkouts
In hospitality venues - such as cafes, restaurants and bars - the collection of customers’ contact details remains mandatory. The Government is strongly encouraging table service.
It is a legal requirement to wear face coverings in all public indoor settings, subject to exemptions.
Mr Prentice added: “It’s vital that everyone follows the guidance. People in our local businesses are working incredibly hard at what’s already a busy time of year, so please be considerate to them. I would urge everyone to show kindness and patience as we work our way through the current situation.”