It’s still the York we know and love – but things will be different.


The York BID (Business Improvement District), York City Council, Make It York, and North Yorkshire Police have been working together to make the city as safe as possible when non-essential shops reopen on 15th June.

New measures because of Covid-19 have been put in place to keep people safe and socially distanced, and the city clean.

So, here’s everything you need to know about getting back into the city, and remember:

Let’s Be York – Safe, Welcoming Considerate.                            

Why are shops reopening?

York is following government guidance which says that all non-essential retail can reopen from 15 June. These will include: stalls on the Shambles Market, as well as shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books and electronics.

What advice do you have if I’m thinking of going shopping?

This is new for us all so we are urging everyone to be responsible, safe, kind and patient.  You may need to plan more than you normally would before heading into town – think about your journey and where exactly you want to visit when you are in the city centre. 

This is the new normal – social distancing, hand washing, hand sanitisers and face coverings are now part of our routines. 

It’s our job to help keep each other and our city safe and we can do that by being responsible, patient and considerate of others. 

What health and safety measures are in place?

For several weeks there has been a huge amount of work taking place behind the scenes. 

City of York Council is extending York’s footstreets from 15 June to increase pedestrian zones within the city centre and support local businesses by providing residents more space to social distance, making access to city centre shops and businesses easier.

Goodramgate (between Deangate and King’s Square), King’s Square, Church Street, Colliergate, Blake Street, St Helen’s Square, Lendal will be pedestrianised between 10.30am and 5pm.

Emergency vehicles and the Dial-a-Ride vehicle will be permitted access at all times.

A range of signage will be erected throughout the city, communicating changes to streets and encouraging people to keep a distance and show consideration to others. Some narrow streets like the Shambles will become ‘one way’. Please look out for the new signage and follow them.

Businesses have been working hard undertaking risk assessments, buying PPE and arranging their premises to make them as safe as possible for returning staff and customers. We know from many conversations with business owners that they can’t wait to reopen and welcome back their customers, but health and safety has been paramount in their preparations.

What differences will I see?

Anyone who decides to come into the city centre needs to understand that it won’t be ‘shopping as usual’.

Everyone will be asked to follow simple but essential guidelines, such as:

  • ‘Keep Left’ on pedestrianised streets
  • Use allocated queuing zones outside shops
  • Respect one-way systems where walkways aren’t wide enough for two-way pedestrian traffic
  • If you need to use a lift – only people from the same household will be able to travel together – so queues are possible
  • You will need to socially distance wherever possible – this includes keeping your distance from staff inside shops
  • Don’t linger in thoroughfares and doorways

Should I wear a face covering?

Public Health England guidance says people should wear a face covering if visiting an environment where social distancing can prove difficult, or if you are in an enclosed space.

If you are planning on taking public transport, it is now mandatory to wear a face covering. Shop workers are not required to wear face covering, but may choose to do so.

Will there be hand sanitiser available?

Individual retailers are being encouraged to make hand sanitisers available for customers, and many of them will have it available to use. It is also a good idea to carry your own personal hand sanitiser with you.

Which shops can I visit?

Not all retailers will re-open on the 15 June – some will open at a later date, and some will be opening with reduced hours, or only on specific days. It’s best to check online before travelling into the city centre if you want to visit a specific shop.  From a recent survey we understand around 60% of retailers are planning to open their doors next week, with a further 20% later in June.

We are sharing information on which businesses are open on the York BID Instagram stories.

Will I have to queue to get in?

You may encounter some queues, but individual businesses will manage them in a safe way, with markers and social distancing in place.

There will be a limited number of spaces in each queue in order to ensure pedestrians can walk safely and maintain social distancing. If the queuing area is full, you might be asked to come back later.


What will happen inside the shops?

Each store will have its own rules but you can expect:

  • One-way systems
  • Social distancing
  • A maximum number of people inside at any one time
  • Changing rooms may be closed
  • Café’s in larger stores will be closed
  • Toilets in larger stores will be closed
  • Policies such as no in-store returns

Guidelines will differ from shop to shop and outlets like jewellers and shoe shops will have their own rules. Please visit the retailer’s website for up to date information.

Will I face difficulties as a wheelchair user?

The city centre will remain as accessible as possible and Covid-19 related modifications will attempt to meet everyone’s needs as much as they can.

Is public transport up and running?

Public transport is running but customers need to be aware that space is greatly reduced on buses, due to social distancing rules. If a bus drives past, it is likely it has reached it’s reduced capacity.

First Bus which operate Park & Ride are running a reduced timetable, and are not operating all routes. Please check their website for details.

Current government advice is that, to reduce demand on the public transport network, you should walk or cycle wherever possible. If you have to use public transport, you should try to avoid peak times, leave plenty of time for your journey, and wear a face covering.

There are plenty of bike stands located across the city.

Taxis will be operating from ranks in the city centre.

Where can I park?

Council operated car parks will be open in and around the city centre. From 15th June, free parking will be available ONLY for NHS workers.

Will restaurants and cafes be open?

Dining-in is not an option at the moment, but many restaurants, cafes and bars are successfully operating take away services.  There are street food kiosks at Shambles Market food court and the Coppergate Centre.

It is anticipated that food and drink outlets may fully reopen from 4 July.

Will there be any places to sit and rest in the city centre?

Benches in the city centre are in place but social distancing guidelines must be observed at all times.

The Museum Gardens are currently closed but the Minster’s Deans Park is open. The Minster says ‘Please enjoy and respect the area during your stay, including following the appropriate social distancing measures, removal of personal litter and not consuming alcohol. For the health and safety of others, we remind all visitors that ball games, smoking and dogs are not permitted in the Deans Park.'

Waste collection and street cleaning services are still being affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Please take any litter home with you to help keep the city clean.

Will there be public toilets/baby changing facilities available?

Public toilets will be open. These are situated at Silver Street (baby change), Coppergate Shopping Centre (baby change), Nunnery Lane (baby change), St George’s Field (baby change in disabled facility - 40p entry), Rougier Street (baby change), St Leonards Place and Union Terrace (baby change). All public toilets have disabled access which requires a RADAR key. Flushes and soap dispensers will be automatic and cleaning has been ramped up.

The toilets in large stores like Marks & Spencer and Browns will be closed. Please use the public facilities and make sure you have some spare change with you as most public toilets charge 40p entry.

What if I have Covid-19 symptoms?

There is a strict ‘stay home’ policy for anyone who is displaying symptoms, or who has knowingly been in contact with anyone else known to have coronavirus in the last 14 days.

You should self-isolate in these circumstances and register for the NHS testing/NHS Track and Trace programme – you can register here or call 119.

I’m feeling anxious about going into the city centre – is there support?

The York BID Street Rangers will be carrying out their patrols as usual, providing a reassuring presence on the streets.

These are strange times and some people may need a little extra help as the lockdown eases. York Mind is a useful place to visit if you are feeling low, anxious or stressed.

What if I am on the Shielded List?

People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions and follow the latest government advice.


Most importantly - Local businesses are really looking forward to seeing you again, so enjoy your visit!



All this information is accurate at the time of writing, but please keep up to date with the latest changes and developments by heading to the government’s dedicated Covid-19 website,

The City of York council website:

Useful travel information:

Where to park in York:

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