Economy Minister welcomes confirmation that all goods retailers – including inside shopping centres – can re-open from Friday

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has welcomed confirmation that all goods retailers can re-open from tomorrow.

This includes retail outlets located inside shopping centres like the Fairhill and Tower Centre in Ballymena which do not have direct street access.

The Tower Centre. Picture – Google


The move was agreed by the Executive on Monday, conditional on there being no increase in the spread of Covid-19 by today.

The Minister said: “It is great news that the Executive today confirmed the re-opening plans.

“This is a further step in getting the economy moving again.

“I would urge people to be considerate when they go shopping, and to think of others to ensure the safety of themselves and also the many staff returning to work.

“Please follow signs and instructions which will have been put in place to protect everyone.

“All stores must adhere to the relevant safety measures and ensure social distancing is maintained.”

In a Facebook post on Thursday evening the Tower Centre said: ‘IMPORTANT INFO PLEASE READ IN FULL ‼️

‘It was welcome news from the Northern Ireland Executive today that Shopping Centres can re-open from tomorrow.

‘As most of you are aware we have remained open throughout lockdown with essential stores trading to serve the local community.

Please keep in mind that as this news was only announced this afternoon stores will need time to prepare and give their teams sufficient notice to return to work.

‘We will keep you updated on when your favourite shops are returning to Tower Centre via our website. Please check the following link for the most up to date announcements and info:

‘Shop Safely at Tower Centre

‘You’ll notice some changes within the centre when you visit. Please take the time to read our signage when entering the mall, follow the new one way system, respect social distancing and most importantly Shop Safely at Tower Centre.

‘Thank you and we look forward to welcoming you to Tower Centre. Team Tower x’

(Above – a video taken in recent days at the Tower Centre).

Meanwhile, The Fairhill’s web page contained the following information: ‘Planning Your Visit
Following government guidance, many of our stores are preparing to reopen from 12th June 2020, and some of our cafes and restaurants are offering a takeaway service .

‘Please note that the indoor seating space inside the Food Court remains closed, and visitors are kindly asked to take their food away to be enjoyed at home .

‘Many of our retailers have adapted their opening hours to support the safe return to work of their staff, so please always double check before you set off .

‘To make sure everyone can keep a two-metre distance while in our centre, we will be closely managing our visitor numbers . If we become particularly busy, we may ask you to queue considerately in a designated area outside, and we may also temporarily close our car park.

‘The majority of stores will be manning the entrance to their store to control the number of visitors in their store. If a store has reached its full occupancy, we ask visitors to please keep moving through the centre .

‘Getting here and heading home

‘From 12th June 2020 we’re making some temporary changes to help keep everyone safe while visiting us, which may affect your usual travel arrangements.

‘Entrances and exits

‘Your usual way of entering Fairhill may have changed, as we’re implementing keep left systems to help support social distancing.

‘Car parking

‘We’ve adapted our car park to help everyone keep a safe distance when visiting us:

‘MSCP Car Park third to upper level closed

‘MSCP Car Park second level – cars parking here should use stairwells or lift to gain access to M&S or centre via the ground floor. M&S first floor has no entry.

‘The Roof Top car park will be open as usual, however access to the centre is limited to one entrance at the Next and New Look Lifts.

‘Other ways to travel

‘Anyone planning to use public transport to visit Fairhill should check their service in advance. Please visit

‘Updates to our facilities and services

‘To help keep our customers and colleagues safe while visiting us, we are making some changes to the facilities and services we are currently able to offer from 12th June 2020.

‘Please visit our Facilities and services page to find out more.

‘Stay Safe

‘The well being of our colleagues and customers is our number one priority and so we’re introducing new measures from 12th June 2020 to keep Fairhill as safe as possible for everyone.

‘This means that some things may look a little different next time you visit us, so please look out for:

‘Keep left’ systems to help with social distancing
Hand sanitising stations
New signage to help everyone keep a two-metre distance from others
Many of our shared areas, such as our Food Court and Mall seating have been removed until further notice
Reduced capacity in our lifts to support social distancing

‘Our Fairhill on-site team have all been provided with suitable PPE such as masks and gloves to help them carry out their roles safely. We’re also continuing with our enhanced cleaning regimes, including regular cleaning of key touchpoints throughout each day.

‘You can help everyone to stay safe by:

Staying at home if you, or anyone in your household, has symptoms of Covid-19
Washing your hands regularly
Keeping a two-metre distance from people outside of your household
Using contactless payments wherever possible

‘In line with government guidance, we’re also asking visitors to shop by themselves wherever possible, and to keep household groups to a minimum if not. Please be aware that our indoor children’s play facilities are closed until further notice.’

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