Edinburgh St James Quarter has phased opening with focus on Covid safety

As residents of the Capital prepare for the opening of one of the UK’s most exciting retail and lifestyle developments, the team at the brand new St James Quarter are working hard behind the scenes to ensure that the highly anticipated opening is a safe one.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 4:45 pm
St James Quarter will begin its first phase of opening on Thursday
St James Quarter will begin its first phase of opening on Thursday

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After years of development, St James Quarter will open its doors to the public for the first time on Thursday June 24 in its first phase of opening.

While the opening will be without the fanfare and ribbon cutting usually expected of such events due to Covid restrictions, the team have said that they ‘make no apologies’ for taking measures to keep the people of Edinburgh safe in these unusual circumstances.

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Managing director of St James Quarter, Nick Peel spoke to the Evening News ahead of the opening about what customers can expect when visiting, as well as the phased approach throughout the next 18 months.

“We're enormously excited about St James Quarter and everything it represents, not just on June 24, but for the rest of 2021, 2022 and beyond as we move into phase two and three in the opening,” Mr Peel said, “We're acutely aware of our responsibilities in what is still a Covid environment and we have full respect for Scottish Government protocols.”

To curb the crowds, the opening will be largely toned down from what was expected in pre-Covid times, and there will be measures in place throughout the Galleria to ensure the safety of guests.

Mr Peel added: “We certainly want everyone to turn up and and enjoy an experience in St James Quarter, but we’re going to do our utmost to make sure that that flow of guests and visitors is spread out across possible opening day and then opening weekend and beyond.”

Covid safety measures

The retailers will open at 9am on Thursday, with the exception of John Lewis which will open at 8am and the team behind St James Quarter are urging visitors to come throughout the day, rather than rush to visit at opening time.

Customers should also be mindful that there will be queuing systems in place for retailers and some construction work still on site.

Mr Peel added: “We will have some pretty robust Covid safety measures in place. The Galleria itself and its roof are designed in such a way that it is naturally ventilated, but we’re asking guests to wear face coverings unless exempt.

“Our guest services desk and staff will have supplies of face masks should anybody require them. Hand sanitiser dispensers are going to be freely available at entrances and lobbies in our car park. We have also committed to a very extensive deep cleaning process in all public spaces and touch points, which will happen throughout the day.”

In the digitally enhanced development, guests are encouraged to use contactless payments whenever possible, and be mindful that some stores may not accept cash purchases at all.

Throughout the opening period, the St James Quarter team will monitor capacity and crowd flow and have a one way system on each level, all which will be reviewed in line with Scottish government guidance.

“We've put an enormous amount of time, effort and money into the pre-planning, we're entirely convinced that St James Quarter will be as safe and secure as it possibly can be,” Mr Peel added.

Dozens of retailers are set to open their doors on Thursday, including Zara, Pull & Bear, & Other Stories, Lego, Miele and some high street favourites, however those waiting in anticipation for the Bonnie & Wild Food Hall will need to golf on slightly longer.

While the brand new Scottish-artisan food hall won’t be open on Thursday, June 24, it is on track to open in just a few weeks time in July.

Mr Peel said: “Even within a month of St James Quarter opening there are going to be a number of other relatively high profile places opening. We have Maki and Ramen, Nordic Outdoors, The Kooples all within a couple of weeks of June 24, then even more coming in August, September and October.

“While Thursday will be extremely exciting world-class line up, the good news is there’s a reason to visit St James Quarter every week with something new opening up right through until October November time.

“We have spent an enormous amount of time and effort on recruiting a guest services team and guest safety ambassadors team, both of whom will be in situ, they have been working for us now for a number of weeks and months and have been through training development in such a way that, we're prepared for just about every eventuality.

“What we're hoping to offer here is five star hospitality in our welcome morning. I think our guests and our customers are going to be blown away and surprised and delighted by our guest services, our guest safety teams, who will be easily identifiable on their own opening.”

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