BUSINESSES in Torfaen have been stepping up preparations as it is expected that non-essential retailers will be given the green light to reopen this week.

First minister Mark Drakeford reiterated his desire for measures to be relaxed after the next review of lockdown regulations on Thursday and asked non-essential retailers to prepare to re-open with social distancing measures in place.

Pontypool Indoor Market closed on Tuesday, March 23, with all rents suspended following consultation with the traders and following government guidelines.

The indoor market has been liaising with traders and Torfaen County Borough Council to make sure it is safe for traders and customers when given the green light to re-open.

A council spokeswoman said: “Over the past three weeks we’ve been working closely with all of our traders in Pontypool Indoor Market, and we are confident that they are going to be able to offer a good-quality, safe service when the market reopens.

“We are working to re-open the market as soon as it is safe to do so.

“The safety of traders and shoppers is our top priority, so the market will re-open once we are confident that all health and safety measures are in place.

“We know that our traders are looking forward to the reopening, and those who have offered delivery services during the pandemic are very grateful to residents who have supported them during this difficult time.”

Some businesses at the Cwmbran Centre have remained open throughout the pandemic, but the centre has now been preparing for an increase in footfall.

“A small number of our team will be on hand to make sure the centre remains a clean and safe place to visit,” read a statement.

“If you are visiting the centre, we urge you to wash your hands before and after your visit so we can keep on top of germs and if you sneeze or cough, please do so in the crook of your elbow as per the guidelines.

“We would like to thank our fantastic team who are working very hard in very challenging circumstances, to support our retailers, serve our communities and take care of one another.”​

The centre would not comment on the preparations for more of its stores re-opening until it is officially green lit.

In Blaenavon, a number of businesses had been able to stay open throughout the pandemic, albeit in a takeaway capacity.

Susan Fiander-Woodhouse, of Blaenafon Cheddar, said measures had been put in place to accommodate social distancing at the store.

“Only one family or one customer is allowed in at a time,” she said.

Mrs Fiander-Woodhouse also said she hoped the pandemic could lead more people supporting smaller, local businesses.

“I think lockdown has educated the general public that local produce is available even in a crisis,” she said.