A scheme set up by Lancaster City Council to boost consumer confidence in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has been recognised nationally.
The Local Government Association has highlighted the Covid Safe Award for local shops, restaurants and pubs as a best practice case study.
Almost 200 businesses across Lancaster and Morecambe signed up to the scheme, with those taking part saying it was a real boost during the difficult times.
The Covid Safe Award was set up as the first lockdown eased and enabled businesses to reassure the public that they had measures in place to keep them safe.
Businesses attended a Covid advice webinar to help them understand the changes they needed to make to keep customers safe, such as one-way routes, the introduction of screens, and mask-wearing, and then made an online application to take part in the scheme.
Stephen Sylvester, Commercial Protection Manager at the city council, said: “At the start of the pandemic we were offering businesses free visits from our officers to help advise them about what steps needed to be taken.
“As things started opening again, we thought the customer assurance scheme would be a great way to engage them, but also to tempt customers back on to the high street.
“The problem with some of these schemes is that they rely on self-certification – we wanted to ensure there was some quality control.
“Our Covid-19 information officers kept an eye on premises to make sure businesses were complying with the scheme, which the vast majority of businesses did.”
Tim Tomlinson, from the White Cross Pub, which gained a Covid-19 Safe award, added: “It was the stamp of approval which gave customers the confidence to shop, eat out or go for a drink. It gave a lift to all the accredited business during these difficult times.”
As announced recently, following the success of the Covid Safe scheme, the city council is now building on what it learnt with a new Customer Safe scheme to support local businesses and help them use customer feedback to improve their business practices.
It has been initially launched with 50 local businesses and is promoted under a number of different banners following a similar theme. The first two cover pubs/bars (Drink Safe) and food/catering businesses (Eat Safe).
For more information visit www.Lancaster.gov.uk/customer-safe.