Eyewitness: what the “new Covid-19 normal” looks like in St Austell

Posted By on 5th June 2020

By Richard Whitehouse

Walking into St Austell town centre on a sunny morning it was clear that something had changed.

The first signs were noticeable as I strolled through Cemetery Park and noticed that the benches had bright yellow, green and red stickers on them.

On closer inspection these were advising people to “Be smart – keep 2m apart”.

As I got closer to the centre of town I started to see the now familiar green and yellow branding on signs attached to shop windows.

These signs, marked as being the work of St Austell Business Improvement District (BID), gave further advice for anyone venturing into the town.

“It’s great to see you!” they proclaim before asking people to respect each other’s space, list the rules put up by each retailer and the security, cleaning and retail staff who are here so you can shop.

“Help us help you,” it says, and provides a number of other guidelines which will help.

These include thinking about the time of day you visit to avoid crowds and queues, not to visit in groups and following the “stay right” signage dotted around the town.

People are asked not to queue beyond the markings set out for each shop and to try again later and to carry hand sanitiser for their own use.

Shoppers are asked to not “stand around chatting” as that could block other people trying to get around safely, and if you wear gloves you are asked to dispose of them at home.

It finishes: “Only come in to shop, when you have finished please head back to the safety of your own home.”

Any notion that lockdown is over is clearly dismissed in this strong and clear messaging.

As I continued through the town it was clear that this is a different place – outside banks people were queuing – all social distancing and patiently waiting in line.

This is the new normal, but it still takes some getting used to – as more shops are allowed to open these queues will be commonplace.

In White River Place there are signs everywhere advising people to walk on the right with yellow tape dividing the walkways.

Outside each shop there is more yellow tape providing a marker for where people should queue and keep their 2m distance.

Individual shops also have their own signage and floor signs showing people where to stand and how to queue in order to keep themselves and staff safe.


Just a handful of shops are currently open in the town but once the government allows more to open it is clear they will be well prepared.

In a post on Facebook the St Austell BID provided pictures of the new signs and asked people to follow them.

It added: “These are unusual times and things will be very different for a while. Please follow the instructions given, and be respectful and considerate to each other and to the retail workers.

“We look forward to welcoming you all back to St Austell. Thank you.”

This article has been supplied to Cornwall Reports by the BBC Local Democracy Service