YORK city centre finally looks set to come back to life next month after the Prime Minister declared that non-essential shops can reopen from June 15.

The Coppergate Centre says many of its stores are ready to open their doors and three flagship department stores - Fenwicks, Browns and Barnitts - are planning to reopen with major safety and social distancing measures in place.

Coppergate manager Pippa Unwin said many businesses had already been preparing for Boris Johnson’s announcement, adding: “We expect most to have their social distancing plans in place by then to facilitate this, but that decision is entirely down to operators of individual stores themselves.”

Fenwick CEP John Edgar said its "physical stores", including in the Coppergate Centre, were ready and prepared to open as soon as the Government allowed it, and the firm had been working diligently to make them compliant with guidelines.

Browns is also targetting a reopening of its flagship department store in Davygate, and its three others in Helmsley, Beverley and Gainsborough, with perspex screens around counters, hand sanitisers available and visors and masks offered for staff, said boss Nick Brown.

Barnitts’ managing director Paul Thompson said it was aiming for June 15 - or maybe the weekend before because its goods were classified as "essential" - but it needed "everyone to fire back up to make it work, to give people more of a reason to come to the city centre".

Pavers said its shoe store in Coppergate planned to reopen on reduced hours, with extensive and enhanced hygiene and staff/customer safety protocols "over and beyond government guidelines".

However, Next said its Coney Street store would not be reopening on June 15, saying its larger out-of-town stores, including at Vangarde, which had easier social distancing, would be reopening first.

Furniture store Rodgers of York at Monks Cross reopened yesterday and Poundland will resume trading at Monks Cross this week. Kevin Clarkson, owner of nursery retailer Paul Stride at Monks Cross, said it would definitely be reopening by June 15, but he was seeking clarification on whether it could open sooner.