Hartlepool's Middleton Grange shopping centre encourages customers to wear masks despite Freedom Day easing

Hartlepool’s flagship shopping centre is encouraging customers to continue to wear face coverings despite the lifting of restrictions as Covid cases continue to rise in the town.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 4:27 pm

Middleton Grange shopping centre is keeping many of the measures it has had in place throughout lockdown despite most being lifted by the Government on Monday, July 19.

It comes as Hartlepool had the third highest case rate in England for the seven days to July 12 at 1,015.3 cases per 100,000 people with 951 new cases.

Middleton Grange’s public toilets near Primark and its mult-storey car park reopened on Monday after social distancing was lifted.

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Shoppers in Middleton Grange shopping centre, Hartlepool. Picture by Frank Reid

And 14 customer seats have been reinstated.

But the children’s play room is still closed for the time being, and disinfecting, hand sanitisers and a contraflow floor marking system remain in place.

Shopping centre manager Mark Rycraft said: “Although there is no legal requirement to wear a face covering we are encouraging people to continue to do so.

"Cases are on the rise in Hartlepool and there’s a social duty on us I believe to ensure people are safe and feel safe as much as possible.”

Carla Trebble (left) and Jackie Coady were among shoppers happy to wear masks in Hartlepool's Middleton Grange shopping centre on 'Freedom Day'.

A Covid Test and Collect Centre for people without symptoms remains open near WHSmith.

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The majority of shoppers were happy to continue to wear masks.

Mum of three Carla Trebble, 40, said: “I still wear one just for my own protection but for people who haven’t had the vaccine or the clinically vulnerable or young children.

“There were quite a lot of young people who weren’t wearing them.”

Tracy Lambton, 49, from Bishop Cuthbert, said: “I’m happy with the restrictions being lifted but I’m doing it for other people.

“If they’re a little bit unsure I don’t want to give cause [for concern].”

Jackie Coady, 67, added: “I will keep my mask for now and see how it goes. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

"I just keep my distance and put my hand gel on.”

Jason Donnelly, 41, of Elwick Rise, said: “I will stick to wearing a mask whenever I go into shops just to try to keep the numbers down and I will try as best I can to stick to social distancing.

"I think everybody should have that mindset of just continuing as we are at the moment.”

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