LAKESIDE has partially closed as part of measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

Following Monday's announcement that the UK would be put into lockdown, intu Lakeside have announced their partial closure in a bid to protect staff whilst supporting essential retailers which are required to stay open.

The Royals Shopping Centre in Southend has also followed suit, closing all shops except Poundland, Boots, Grapetree and Tesco Express.

The only access to the centre will be via Heygate Avenue- opposite Southend Bus Station and the High Street entrance for access to Grapetree. Public toilets and the car park will close until further notice.

An intu spokesperson, said: "Following the Government’s update that all non-essential shops are to close, we can confirm that intu Lakeside will now be operating on a partially closed basis.

“Our centres sit at the heart of many of their communities and provide access to vital services such as pharmacies and supermarkets.

"As many of these essential services can only be reached through the centres themselves, we will ensure all our visitors are able to access them whilst supporting those retailers who need to stay open.

“A small number of our team will be on hand to make sure our centres remain clean and safe places to visit. Opening times will vary so please check the website for details.

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

"Our thoughts are with everyone during this difficult time.”

A  20-year-old store assistant, who works at Lakeside, said: "This has been quite a scary time for us all in retail, who come in regular contact with shoppers who may or may not have the virus.

"It's been difficult to keep ourselves protected with minimal personal protective equipment (PPE) available despite my company's efforts to try and source this for staff.

"We know this decision wasn't taken lightly and thank Lakeside for putting our best interests first, along with our customers.

"I will miss all of my colleagues and hope to be back at work soon."

The Royals Shopping Centre manager Dawn Jeakings, said: “The wellbeing of our customers and our staff is of prime importance, during this difficult and trying time. 

“Our cleaners are being appropriately thorough and paying particular attention to surfaces and items such as hand rails.

“Everyone who works here has been thoroughly briefed on the steps to take to best keep themselves and our visitors protected and we will continue to follow any guidance issued by the Government and its Chief Medical Officer.  Wishing all of our loyal customers well and keep safe “