Top NI shopping centre planning drive-in family movie weekend

A top NI shopping centre is planning to run a drive-in family movie weekend this month.

Rushmere Shopping Centre is planning the weekend events to welcome customers back to the Craigavon complex after months of restricted movement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With McDonald’s Drive Thru opening tomorrow (June 3), and a significant increase in the number of shops reopening this month following the government’s announcement that non-esssential retail outlets could reopen, Rushmere looks set to return to normal.

The shopping centre is planning a drive-in family movie weekend later this month as part of a series of new initiatives to welcome customers safely back. Further details will be announced on its social media channels later this week.

Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon.

The centre has remained open for retailers of essential items such as food, pharmacy and pet supplies since March, with Sainsbury’s, Iceland, Home Bargains, Boots, Specsavers, Holland & Barrett, Post Office, B&M Bargains, Pets at Home and Pound Stretcher all remaining open. Homebase reopened earlier this month.

Rushmere Shopping Centre manager, Martin Walsh, said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our customers remains our top priority and following the Executive’s decision to potentially allow larger non-essential retailers to reopen their doors from June 8, we look forward to welcoming many more customers and returning staff as part of a wider safe, phased reopening.

“Bright, modern, spacious and carefully managed, Rushmere is well-placed to ensure that every customer’s journey reflects maximum safety at all times. We want everyone to be confident and reassured that their wellbeing is paramount.”

The centre already has a well-established people management and social distancing in place, one-way systems, live footfall cameras, floor stickers to mark two-metre gaps and heightened hygiene measures. Trained staff are also on hand to provide advice, ensuring visitors are aware of the measures introduced and are adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Martin Walsh, Rushmere centre manager.

The Northern Ireland Executive’s decision to permit the reopening of larger non-essential stores, subject to restrictions and with social distancing measures in place, paves the way for several major outlets at Rushmere’s Retail Park.

Items bought online from Argos can be collected instore at Sainsbury’s.

Coffee shops and restaurants will remain closed while government restrictions on the hospitality sector remain in place, though planning for delivery and collection are being considered. McDonald’s is expected to reopen its drive-thru for collection and deliveries on Wednesday (3rd June).

Employing more than 1,200 staff, Rushmere Shopping Centre is one of Northern Ireland’s largest retail destinations, located between Portadown and Lurgan just 30 miles to the west of Belfast.

Since the lockdown began in March, the centre’s management team has also weighed in to help pharmacists in Boots by delivering prescribed medication to the homes of vulnerable customers who are shielding at home and unable to leave.

The centre has also invested in a range of new equipment to maintain the complex and grounds.

Rushmere Shopping Centre opened in Craigavon 43 years ago and attracts more than 6.5 million visitors a year. In 2018 it welcomed a new Five Guys and Nando’s as part of a £2 million strategic investment by Rushmere to provide shoppers with a greater hospitality choice.

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