AFTER twelve weeks with its doors shut, Bicester Village is set to reopen on Monday with a host of new safety measures such as temperature checks to keep customers and staff safe.
The designer outlet, which closed on March 24, will welcome visitors for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown began in the hope that they will feel safe, confident and happy as they shop.
Some of the measures managers have introduced are thermal scanning, social distancing, deep cleaning, digital maps and digital queuing.
Visitors are expected to see new stickers on the floor across the whole site reminding people to stay two metres apart, and every store will have a number displayed showing the maximum allowed inside at a time.
Thermal scanning involves all guests having their temperature checked on arrival apart from young children, but people will not know that they are being scanned.
If any person’s temperature is over 38 degrees, they may be denied entry.
During lockdown, managers said the outlet has been deep-cleaned and sanitised. They also said they had instituted a new sanitising and cleaning routine which would take place throughout the day with a focus on ‘touch points’ or areas that are most likely to be touched such as restrooms.
People are encouraged to use contactless payments instead of cash and there will be no paper maps but digital ones to use instead to hep people navigate around the site.
With customers likely to queue outside, shoppers can use a queueing app instead where they can scan a QR code outside the boutique they want to visit and the app will alert them as to when it is their turn to enter.
Bicester Town Council said it endorsed the reopening of one of the town’s biggest employers.
Councillor Richard Mould said: “We fully support the opening of Bicester Village. Having seen firsthand the protocols they have put in place, all visitors can be assured of a safe shopping environment as, of course, can the staff who serve them.
“I think Monday is a significant step on the road back to economic recovery.”
Bicester Village’s owner, Value Retail, has already opened its other sites in China and Europe which has given managers time to see how effective the new measures are.
Banbury MP Victoria Prentis visited last week to have a look at the new measures.
One manager at the site, who asked not to be named, said that although they did not think Value Retail dealt with staff concerns well before lockdown, it was the right time to reopen.
He said: “They closed far too late when all of this was unknown, but the outlets in Europe have been open for weeks with no ill effects. The country as a whole stands to lose more by staying in our homes. We have to try and get the economy going.
“Staff were scared before, but now the general attitude is a hunger to get back to work, albeit many staff will remain on furlough as skeleton staff will be in operation as we won’t be getting the tourist trade.”
Bicester Village will be open from 10am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 7pm on Sundays, with browsing of larger stores from 11.30. Restaurants will only be serving takeaway food.