Tuesday, 31 March 2020 16:07

Shutters down and closed shop doors in Barnet High Street

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Shoppers few and far between in Barnet High Street Shoppers few and far between in Barnet High Street
Only around 20 shops and retail outlets are still open for business along the entire length of Barnet High Street during the second week of the tightening squeeze being imposed by the coronavirus lockdown. Shoppers are few and far between and the only other sign of activity has been two workmen -- complete with face masks, and at a safe distance -- adding the final touches to the pavement widening.

Queuing at a safe distance -- or a policy of one in and one out -- applies at stores and shops selling food, groceries and other items such as alcoholic drinks, confectionery and newspapers.

The same rules on limited entry are in operation at Boots the chemists and two other High Street pharmacies, Parry Jones and Wilkinsons.

Several takeaways are still trading and offering items such as pizzas and burritos; banks are open but for much reduced hours; and two undertakers -- W. Nodes and Co-op Funeral Care -- ask for inquiries to be made first on the phone or online.

The door to the parish church of St John the Baptist is firmly closed and the noticeboard gives details on how to join online prayers at www.barnetparishchurch.org.uk while services are suspended.

Worshippers at at the Roman Catholic church in Union Street are also advised to visit the Mary Immaculate and St Gregory website www.parish.rcdow.org.uk/barnet for the mass streamed online at 10am.

In a notice on the door, Father John says that it was with "great sadness" that Cardinal Nichols had instructed the church to be closed for safety reasons.

Mid-afternoon on Monday the High Street was nearly deserted on a walk up from the tube station.

Food shops trading between the tube station and the parish church included Simply Local, Tesco Express and Barnet Convenience Store. Two take-away pizza outlets -- Papa Johns and Domino's -- were taking orders. Barnet Galleries and Barnet Motor Factors were accepting orders by phone.

In the busiest section of the High Street between the parish church and the St Albans Road junction, Parry Jones and the Post Office had customers, as did the Village Store, Iceland supermarket, Boots, Sainsbury Local and Holland and Barrett. Harry's the butcher is opening on Fridays and Saturdays.

After the St Albans Road junction, the two High Street shops open were Wilkinsons and the Hadley News convenience store.

Except for buses and ambulances on their way to and from Barnet Hospital, Wood Street was exceptionally quiet.

Some Wates construction staff were at work laying foundations for the new care home which is being built on the Marie Foster site. Again, as with the High Street pavement widening, this activity benefits from being outside.

Although pits for the proposed tress have been opened up in the widened pavements, it may now be too late in the season to plant them until the autumn. New benches, bins and cycle hoops are also expected, but it is unclear when they will be installed.

Another sign of the times was the Ewen Hall noticeboard in Wood Street: 1st Barnet Boys' Brigade and Girls' Association -- "all activities postponed".

Near the parish church another notice stood out: "Coronavirus Precaution: Barnet Museum closed to the public".

Robin Bishop, chair of the Barnet Society comments:

"Although this is bad news for an already beleaguered High Street, it will focus minds on what most needs to be done to regenerate Chipping Barnet town centre. Barnet Council is currently employing consultants to suggest ways of doing so. When they exhibit their proposals -- hopefully in a few weeks' time -- it will be vital for residents to study them and express their opinions." 

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