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Optimistic Guildford Town Centre On First Weekend Open After Lockdown

Published on: 20 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 22 Jun, 2020

by Hugh Coakley

Reactions were generally optimistic after a busy Saturday in Guildford town centre (June 20), the first weekend after the coronavirus pandemic lockdown on March 23, 2020.

People queued around the corner to get into The Friary shopping centre. 600 people are allowed in at any one time said a staff member at the door.

A young couple, Encarna and Demetrios from Farnham who were visiting the town, said: “It feels like life is coming back to normal.”

And traders were feeling upbeat. James Kemp, manager at The Glasses Shop in White Lion Walk, said: “We are not yet quite back to normal. I think we will be ok but who can predict. I think it will be a slow, steady return.”

There was even talk of the markets coming back to the High Street. Council officers were seen in the town discussing the layout for the antiques and collectables market, possibly to be held in July or September this year.

There were queues outside Greggs in North Street.

And WH Smith and the Post Office in the High Street

Mike Leslie from Partisan the cheesemongers in Chapel Street, said: “We never closed but we are getting more footfall now. We need a reduction in the social distancing rule before we can get the throughput in our shop.

“But its great for the town centre to be coming back.”

Cafes were open for takeaway drinks and snacks. One customer at the Sicool cafe in The Shambles, just off the High Street, said: “They serve the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted, definitely the best in Guildford.”

Caroline Reeves, the leader of Guildford Borough Council, issued a statement thanking people for their efforts during the lockdown. “I’ve been overwhelmed with the community spirit and kindness you’ve shown across our borough. We simply wouldn’t be where we are now without such positive and heart-warming efforts.”

She encouraged people to visit the award winning Castle Grounds to see this year’s summer bedding paying tribute to VE Day and 100 years since the birth of Victorian illustrator, Sir John Tenniel, who illustrated for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Carroll, real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s, siblings lived at the Chestnuts on Castle Hill, and visited them from his main home in Oxford.

Not all shoppers were being patient. “I cant be bothered. I’ll get them online” said one disgruntled shopper when she saw that the North Street entrance to the House of Fraser store was closed.

Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford, said: “There have been a tremendous team effort between GBC, Experience Guildford and other private sector stakeholders in the town.

“We realise we will have to adapt and evolve as we go along, but all involved are committed to making the town a welcoming and reassuring space for people to enjoy. The next phase is to look at how we can adapt our town to meet the needs of altered public habits and values post COVID 19.”

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Responses to Optimistic Guildford Town Centre On First Weekend Open After Lockdown

  1. B Matthews Reply

    June 20, 2020 at 11:20 pm

    Sir John Tenniel was born 200 years ago as the wonderful flower display in the Castle grounds correctly displays.

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