An MP has called on people to back local businesses after shops across the borough opened their doors again following the coronavirus lockdown.

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, has been visiting town centres across her constituency to drum up support for retailers who were forced to close their doors for almost three months due to Covid-19.

The Government allowed non-essential shops to reopen on June 15, with extra safety measures in place designed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Barnet Council has been using £352,000 of Government funding to make shopping safer by widening pavements and providing advice and support for businesses.

Ms Villiers said: “Barnet is open for business again and we need to head back to our town centres to support local retailers. The Covid lockdown has been tough for small businesses. If we value our high streets, we need to be out visiting them and doing our shopping there.

“It’s been great to visit businesses like Marie’s Shoes in East Barnet and the new zero-waste shop Kronos and Rhea in High Barnet. These independently owned local shops provide brilliant service to their customers and we need to get behind them.

“Help and support for our local businesses and town centres has always been a vital part of my plan to improve life in my constituency. This is a crucial time to show how much we value our local town centres. And in just a few days’ time, I hope people will be returning to pubs and restaurants too!”

Ms Villiers urged shoppers to continue to observe social distancing rules to minimise the risk of a return of Covid-19.

To aid social distancing, the council has increased pavement space by putting up temporary barriers in Chipping Barnet High Street, parts of Burnt Oak town centre and parts of North Finchley town centre. Similar measures are planned for part of Edgware town centre and an area close to Golders Green Gyratory.

It has also introduced pavement stencils in 15 town centres to help shoppers keep a safe distance from each other.

Council officers have been carrying out visits to individual businesses to help them trade safely, directing them to safety guidance and providing posters that give advice to customers.

The Government plans to allow pubs and restaurants to reopen from July 4.

Council leader Cllr Dan Thomas (Conservative, Finchley Church End) said: “I have visited all of Barnet’s main town centres and it’s been fantastic to see some level of normality returning to our streets and our shops. While people must stay alert and be mindful of their distance from others, I am thrilled to see our local economy begin to come back to life.

“With so much of the Barnet population working from home, I would also urge our residents to go and walk into your town centre. By doing this, you can support local Barnet businesses, help improve employment and discover how much our borough has to offer while staying safe.”