Plans are underway to ensure North Devon's town centres are ready to welcome residents and visitors back to enjoy them safely, as lockdown restrictions are eased over the coming weeks.

From 12 April, high streets in the district's main towns will be reopening their doors for business following the third national lockdown. North Devon Council, alongside local businesses and town councils, are busy putting measures in place to ensure residents and visitors can return and enjoy the retail and outdoor hospitality opportunities on offer in a safe way.

This includes a clean-up operation in a number of towns, safety signage, hand sanitising stations and the return of 'place makers' in Barnstaple (people whose job it is to answer questions and provide a friendly reminder to the public and businesses to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines to help keep everyone safe). The Live Love Local campaign has continued to call on residents to support their local businesses, even during lockdown, and is now getting behind North Devon's businesses as they prepare to reopen once again.

The council is reminding residents and visitors that every individual has a responsibility to continue taking steps to help lower the rate of infection and protect our communities from the virus. This includes sticking to social distancing rules, wearing a face covering unless exempt, using cards rather than cash to pay where possible and washing hands regularly. By doing so, residents can continue to support their local businesses and enjoy town centres safely. 

Barnstaple Town Centre Manager, Hannah Harrington says: "Lockdown has been a long and painful experience for many of our businesses who would have desperately loved to have served their customers over the last 12 months, but due to the COVID-19 restrictions, have had to be closed.

“We are all very much looking forward to the 12 April when we can kick start the recovery of our towns and our high streets and lots of work is going into preparing the towns for the big reopening. But there is a slight word of caution, we still need to be careful. If we all continue to take personal responsibility for following the government guidance, we can all have a lovely and safe shopping experience."

Residents can find out about exciting promotions, offers and initiatives in North Devon's towns and businesses can advertise their offer on the Live Love Local Facebook and Instagram page (@livelovelocalnorthdevon) - and have a post shared by using #livelovelocalnorthdevon.

The place maker role and the Live Love Local campaign are funded by Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, set up by the European Regional Development Fund and Her Majesty's Government.