SHOPPERS in Cheshire west are being invited to return to the borough's high streets from next Wednesday, with a positive welcome back message.

Shoppers in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Neston and Frodsham are being welcomed back ‘Calmly, Warmly, Carefully’ as the high streets reopen under Tier 2 restrictions.

Christmas lights and decorations are up across west Cheshire from Ellesmere Port’s lanterns to the Chester Town Hall square Christmas Tree and CheStar at Chester Cathedral.

The high streets are also having a makeover, with the original Covid-19 signs replaced with a new borough wide welcome: ‘Calmly, Warmly, Carefully’, with the aim of keeping high streets open and communities safe.

Shoppers are still being asked to observe social distancing, cover faces when indoors and wash their hands regularly whilst Cheshire West and Chester Council has been working with businesses to help stay Covid safe.

Cllr Karen Shore, deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, highways and strategic transport, said: “We are expecting a busy few weeks leading up to Christmas, we appreciate how tough it’s been for our high streets and understandably some shoppers can be nervous returning to shops.

“Please come back to our shops and leave yourself more time, as there may be queues. Being careful, by keeping two metres apart and remembering to wear face coverings and washing your hands regularly. There will be a warm welcome waiting.”

The council has been making sure high streets are as welcoming as possible. High streets and street furniture are being cleaned with a high-pressure jet wash and Chester’s ‘big belly’ bins have all now been fitted with foot pedals to reduce having to touch surfaces.

Additional hand washing facilities are being provided in the city centre outside public toilets (that have remained open during the current lockdown).

A total of 3,000 floor stickers are being put in place helping to mark queuing areas outside shops and encourage social distancing.

Cllr Shore added: “There has been a lot of work with partners including Northwich and Chester BIDS and Marketing Cheshire to make sure there is a safe welcome as our high streets reopen.

“Since the summer we have had a team of Capable guardians helping businesses and the public on our high streets.

"Over the past few weeks we have also increased the number of co-sign radios for our businesses, these are mainly used to help with security issues but during the pandemic, the Capable guardians can be called for help with queue management or for other practical assistance.”

The Capable guardians are uniformed high street information officers that have been supporting high streets across the borough with information and guidance.