SHOPS rolled out the red carpet as they reopened after months of lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak.

West Blackhall Street in Greenock town centre came back to life as premises pulled up the shutters and welcomed customers back.

Non-essential retailers are now allowed to re-open under the latest lockdown relaxations and owners are looking forward to catching up with customers.

Keith Wilson from Smiths Sports told the Tele he was thrilled to reopen.

Mr Wilson said: "We have made extensive preparations for re-opening to ensure everyone can shop in safety with as much peace of mind as possible, including a one way system and social distancing and will be open normal opening hours."

Mairi Coventry from the Wee Crafty Owl, at the foot of Jamaica Street, said: "We couldn't wait to be open again.

"We have so missed the contact with our customers and greatly look forward to seeing them again."

Chris Jewell from nearby Cradle Care added: "Our customers have been telling ushow they have been missing us so we are glad to be back and able to serve them again.

"Like everyone else we have had to make sure our premises are as safe as possible to customers and we have installed screens and have masks and gloves ready.

"To ensure social distancing will mean fewer customers in at any one time, but we look forward to being open again after what has seemed to be such a long time."

Town centres are taking on a different look as trading resumes, with parking spaces taken away to widen pavements, pictured.

Councillor Michael McCormick, convener of the council’s environment & regeneration committee, said: “With social and physical distancing rules still in place across Scotland, it is important that people visiting our town centres are safe and that we support local businesses and their customers.

“One immediate area is that the width of many pavements across Inverclyde make it difficult for customers to maintain social and physical distancing, especially as there is the potential for increased queuing and pedestrian activity.

“We are putting practical measures in place to address the problem where we can and to increase the space that is available.

"This could mean extending the pavement area into some on-street parking spaces.

“Our aim is to encourage pedestrians to pass each other safely and allow queues to form outside premises if required.

“We must all do what we can to help customers be safe and to feel safe when visiting our town centres.”

The council says loading bays and disabled parking places are still available under the scheme.

Parking enforcement has been suspended since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and will remain suspended until August.

Cllr McCormick said: “These are temporary measures to support town centre businesses to reopen safely and encourage the economy to recover.

“The changes to roads will be monitored throughout and we will be reviewing them after 14 days.

"We will be contacting local businesses to see if there are any other measures we can put in in place to support them.

“We will also be launching a new ‘stay safe, shop local’ campaign to encourage shoppers across our town centres as part of the recovery plans for Inverclyde as more shops and parts of the economy reopen.”


BACK IN BUSINESS Tony Quigg, Liam McDade, Jamie Docherty and Keith Wilson of Smiths were delighted to open the premises.

NEW NORMAL The street layout has changed, with pavements extended out into parking spaces to create more room for pedestrians to pass each other safely.