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Lockdown lift-off for shops

Hugh Aitken opens his shop

TOWN centres across Scotland are coming back to life as lockdown is slowly eased. In Stranraer, a wet morning didn't put customers off and shops opening for the first time in weeks reported brisk trade. The relaxation of lockdown comes as Scotland reported no Covid-19 deaths for the fourth day running and official statistics put the total number of confirmed cases in Dumfries and Galloway at 285, unchanged over the weekend. Among the Stranraer shops opening up today were Barbours and jewellers Hugh Aitken. Mr Aitken took a moment away from the counter to tell the Free Press about the tremendous support he's had from the public. "We are more than delighted to be back. "It's been a long 14 weeks and we are delighted to see our customers and they are delighted to see us." The changes are part of Phase II of the Scottish Government's roadmap out of lockdown and the return of safe shopping has cross-party backing. Emma Harper, SNP South Scotland MSP, said: “Thanks to the progress made in tackling Covid-19, due to the compliance with the lockdown rules of people living across Dumfries and Galloway, we are now in a position to ease some restrictions. “Shops with street access in high streets across our region have re-opened today in a significant step towards the recovery of our economy, which has been very severely hit by Coronavirus. “High street retailers have shown huge resilience since the start of lockdown and the work they have done to safely prepare for re-opening, with close engagement between industry and trade unions, has been very welcome. “As the high street and more of our local shops re-open we are making it clear shoppers are welcome back to their local high street as long as they shop safely and observe key safety messages such as the wearing of face coverings, and also for everyone to be patient and kind as we start to open up our shops and our D&G economy.” Finlay Carson, Conservative MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, said: "I welcome the reopening of shops we have seen across the region today. "We have to get the economy back up and running and safe shopping is part of that. We have to keep an eye on the R number in Dumfries and Galloway and that means relying on people's common sense that they will look after their own health and the health of others. "We can also now hopefully look forward to our key tourism sector reopening safely soon too." Labour's South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth urged people to continue to ‘think local'. “As we move another step out of lockdown and we see many shops across the area opening their doors, I would urge everyone to continue to think local and buy from the small firms who went above and beyond for their customers during the pandemic. “We saw many small businesses and shops stepping up to the mark during lockdown, by changing the way they worked and providing people with the essentials that they desperately needed. Now that many stores are physically opening their doors again and things are returning to a ‘new normal', I would hope that local people remember to support those in their local area. “We have so many amazing small businesses who provide all kinds of services and products and I would hope everyone continues to buy from them as we move out of lockdown.” Today also marks the easing of restrictions on housing moves, outdoor markets, the construction sector, factories, warehouses and labs and research facilities.

<< back Published: 29 Jun 2020, 16:30

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