09 June 2020

The Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland has unveiled the new measures which have been put in place to keep shoppers safe and able to socially distance from next week (15 June).

The centre has remained open throughout the COVID-19 crisis for essential retailers, but with the Government now giving the go-ahead for other shops to trade again, new guidelines for shoppers have been put in place.

This includes a one way system through the centre – with directional arrows telling people the way to travel - and a queuing system outside of shops, marked with yellow foot prints placed two metres apart.

The detailed plan for when the centre is fully reinstated will see managers and security staff closely monitoring people’s behaviour and if they feel social distancing rules are not being obeyed, a “one in, one out” system will be introduced as a last resort.

New signage has been introduced throughout the centre which will give shoppers guidance on social distancing and a number of sanitisation stations have been installed at every entrance to the Bridges.

The centre has also increased its cleaning and housekeeping, which will see a dedicated team sanitising all areas throughout the day.

“We are very pleased that we are able to fully reinstate shopping at the Bridges but with that it is very important that everyone abides by the social distancing rules,” said Duncan Allen, Building and Services Director.

“We have everything in place for that to happen but it’s vital that shoppers take note of the new systems and adheres to them, for the safety of both visitors and the staff.

“We know this is all very new but we would also ask that everyone behaves in a respectful manner, both to our employees and to each other.”

Trading times at the centre will remain unchanged, although individual retailers may be changing their opening hours.

“We would advise people to check our website or with the individual shops to see if they are operating at reduced hours,” said Duncan.

A customer services facility will be in operation while the desk on the mall remains closed, which can be reached on 0191 515 4885 and by emailing [email protected]

Customer toilets and baby changing facilities will also be reinstated, but again a “one in, one out” system is being introduced to ensure social distancing is maintained.

Hand driers will not be in use and people will be encouraged to use paper towels, with extra bins provided for their disposal.

The lifts will also be available but primarily for elderly people or anyone with a mobility problem and again social distancing rules will apply.

The seating in the malls – which was removed at the beginning of the crisis – will not be replaced until the Government advises it is safe to do so and children’s rides in the centre will also not be in use.

Both car parks – the roof top car park and the multi-storey next to Debenhams – will be open, although not all the entrances will be available.

The glass bridge from Debenhams will be closed as will the entry to the multi-storey via level four at the store. The store itself will not be opening until 17 June.

“Again we are appealing to everyone that they make sure that they stick to the social distancing rules while using the car parks, the stairs and the lifts,” said Duncan.

“Even though the rules have been relaxed in terms of shops being able to re-open, it is still vitally important that everyone acts responsibly and follows the new systems in place.”