Behind the scenes as Tees shops set to open

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Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston is urging shoppers to return to the town centre for the good of the local economy as retail stores across the region get to reopen.

The mayor was given a sneak peek to the changes being made in Middlesbrough to keep shoppers safe as more stores reopen to the public.

He visited the town’s Hillstreet shopping centre to see first hand what was being done to help visitors feel comfortable in the re-imagined surroundings.

New rules for Middlesbrough Bus Station have also announced including new timings, a one-way system and pick-up and drop-off changes.

All of Middlesbrough’s shopping centres are introducing new safety measures. In Hillstreet they have installed a keep-to-the-left system, signage to outline social distancing and nine hand sanitation units inside the centre.

Individual shops are also rolling out new measures for the benefit of their staff and customers when non-essential stores reopen.

Ender Celik, owner of shoe shop Modella, is introducing a three customers only rule, a one-way system, protective screens where shoes are tried on, a protective screen at the till and three hand sanitisers – one on entrance, one when shoes are tried on and one at the till and exit.

He said: “At the end of the day it is about protecting everyone and making customers feel as comfortable as possible and safe.

“Hopefully, once everyone sees other people paying attention to the rules and being more careful then hopefully more people will start coming out and retail will get back to ‘normal’.”

Mr Preston said: “Middlesbrough town centre is going to look and feel a lot different. We’ve already announced all the new things we are doing as the Council to keep people safe like more cleaning, one-way systems and the introduction of our town centre ambassadors.

“I’d really urge everyone coming into Middlesbrough to make use of the new facilities such as hand washing units and stick to social distancing so we can enjoy the facilities as safely as possible and help get our local economy on the go again which helps us protect jobs.”

Middlesbrough Bus Station will also reopen – but in a much changed way.

Firstly, a one-way system will be introduced with people only allowed in from the Corporation Road end and out via Captain Cook square with signage and security staff to help.

Bus access will be for pick up only and buses will continue to drop passengers off at bus stops around the town centre.

Additionally the bus station will be open for seven days a week from 5am-7pm only, with pick-ups and drop-offs outside of those times also at bus stops. Finally the bus station toilets will remain closed.