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Get the latest government advice about coronavirus. Advice for local residents and business can be found on our coronavirus information page.

Shops, hospitality venues and leisure centres reopen

We have been working hard to support our businesses to be ready to welcome residents and visitors as government restrictions ease today.

Non-essential shops, hospitality businesses which can offer outdoor service and indoor leisure venues have opened for the first time in over three months. This includes our Spectrum Leisure Centre and Ash Manor Sports Centre. Our outdoor Lido already re-opened on Monday 29 March.

Managing Director of the Council, James Whiteman says: "The Coronavirus (Covid 19) pandemic has been challenging for everyone but we have come through it together. Thanks to the incredible vaccination programme and us playing our part by staying home for so many months, restrictions have been able to ease today.

"Thank you for supporting our local businesses where you could throughout the outbreak by shopping online. We continue to do all we can to support our economy - we've paid over 5,600 grants totalling almost £36 million to local businesses and provided business rate holidays over the past year.

"We also work closely with our town centre Business Improvement District, Experience Guildford and partners to ensure businesses across our borough are Covid-secure and have the support they need. Please keep following the guidance and remember the experience will be different. You may need to book a space in a pub not just a table in a restaurant, so please check with the venue before you travel. There are likely to be queues so do please be patient and think of others while queuing.

"Our town centre car parks offer a range of options to suit everyone, from people who are popping in to pick up a prescription or a couple of essential items to those wanting to enjoy lunch in town. Parking prices start at £1, with the best value to be had by using our Park and Ride sites at the Spectrum, Artington and Merrow. Our RingGo parking app also lets you extend your stay without returning to your car if you find that you need extra time.

"Our Covid Safety Marshals will be patrolling in and around the town centre at peak times during the day and night to help ensure that social distancing, face covering and hand-washing guidelines are followed and offer advice on staying safe."

He adds: "As the weather improves many of us are increasing time spent outdoors and we know how wonderful our green spaces and parks are especially in the sunshine. Please enjoy them and make sure you take your litter and takeaway cups home with you - don't toss them for someone else to pick up. If you're using public transport to travel in and get home, please remember you must wear a face covering unless you are exempt."

Chief Executive of Experience Guildford, Amanda Masters says: "We are excited to be able to welcome people back to Guildford town centre but recognise that recovery will be a gradual process. We are again taking steps to give those who want to return to the town centre the confidence to do so. We hope that shoppers will continue to be cautious, calm and kind, and support our fabulous businesses. If you want to enjoy the hospitality of our pubs and restaurants, it's important to plan your visit and check if you need to make a booking in advance to avoid disappointment. If you have any concerns we would encourage you to take time to talk to staff, business owners, our Town Rangers or Safety Marshals who will do everything they can to put your mind at ease. Please also complete our town centre survey, which will help us all to make your visits more enjoyable."

Centre Manager for Tunsgate Quarter, Claire Suggitt says: "The re-opening of non-essential shops is an exciting and huge step forward. Tunsgate Quarter has been working hard, in partnership with Guildford Borough Council and Experience Guildford, to help get Guildford retail back to business. I can assure shoppers that all necessary precautions and measures have been put in place to ensure that they can shop safely and with confidence, and we are really looking forward to welcoming everyone back to Tunsgate Quarter over the coming weeks."

Centre Manager at The Friary Guildford, Vicky Hickson says: "We are extremely pleased that our non-essential stores have re-opened, and we are able to welcome back customers. The return of in-store shopping is long-awaited, but we are aware that for some it may also be a particularly anxious experience and that is why we remain focussed on the safety and wellbeing of our customers. A great deal of effort has gone into making The Friary Guildford a safe place to shop and although it has been a challenging time for everyone, we're continuing to work hard to make sure your visit will be positive and enjoyable. As lockdown restrictions start to ease, we urge people to shop local to support Guildford retailers, to be kind and respectful of others, and always follow the latest government guidelines when visiting the centre. Please keep an eye on our social media for further updates and information on the opening times. We can't wait to see you."

Centre Manager of White Lion Walk, Sam Orledge says "The team at White Lion Walk can't wait to welcome all of our visitors back to Guildford and urge everyone to stay smart and stay safe as they enjoy our shops. Please respect others and continue to follow government guidelines and use the hand sanitiser which is available at the entrances to the White Lion Walk. All of our stores are excited to have reopened and we will work together to make your visit as safe and enjoyable as possible."

In anticipation of more visitors to the town, we are following government guidance and keeping safety measures to create a welcoming and reassuring environment for shoppers. This includes widened footpaths, dedicated external queueing systems and longer road closures in key areas.

We ask everyone visiting the town to please: 

  • Observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart from other shoppers 
  • Follow the direction signs as you make your way around town 
  • Use contactless card payment where you can 
  • Wash your hands as often as possible 
  • Use hand sanitiser when available 
  • Keep your shopping group small

The High Street is again closed to cars between 10am and 6pm from today, to allow visitors to shop more safely. Residents going to Superdrug for their second Coronavirus vaccination should use the parking spaces at the bottom of the High Street, on North Street or at Leapale Road multi-storey car park.

Town Centre car parks offer great value with a range of options to suit all needs. Short-stay car parks, with hourly rates, include Farnham Road, Leapale Road Multi-Storey, Mary Road, Upper High Street, Bedford Road Surface and Old Police Station car parks as well as North Street. For longer stays, you can park for up to three hours for just £3 at Bedford Road, York Road and Castle multi-storey and G-Live, Millbrook and Tunsgate car parks. The RingGo parking app lets you pay for parking by phone, and lets you extend your stay without returning to your car.

Prices at the Stagecoach Park and Ride sites at the Spectrum Leisure Centre, Artington and Merrow start at £1.90 per person per day, and up to two children under 16 can travel free with each fare-paying adult.

Published Monday 12 April