Cautious reopening for lockdown-hit businesses
AFTER weeks of enforced closure, home working or emergency appointments, businesses in many of the sectors worst affected by the lockdown are reopening. Coronavirus measures are in place with new rules, timed appointments, and personal protective equipment becoming normal.
Emma Doney at Adorno Companions (below), a local business which provides support for over-65’s, says recent easing of restrictions has made a big difference.
She said: “We have been able to take our clients out in the car again, which has been life-changing for those who have not been able to go out for over four months. Exercise classes which our companions attend with our clients should also be opening in August and we have our fingers crossed for this.”
Emma's staff must strictly adhere to government guidelines on social distancing and use PPE, as some clients are clinically vulnerable, but are now able to go into homes.
On Chipping Sodbury High Street, Alice Crowley at Swagger has seen a steady flow of customers but initially numbers were limited to four at a time. She has been planning to enable four household 'bubbles' to come into the shop at a time, which would help families, as staff and shoppers prepare to wear masks.
Alice said: “We feel super-safe with our 'sneeze screen', which is 4ft high. Lots of people say it’s like we are in a fish tank. But I think wearing masks will help other customers feel more confident while out. We have noticed a change in people’s shopping habits, a change in browsing and using Swagger as more of a destination place to purchase something they need, rather than an impulse of just passing by and popping in.”
Chipping Sodbury Chamber of Commerce says the general mood among businesses is one of determination to make sure that customers feel welcome and safe.
Joint chairs Michelle Baden-Daintree, Andrew Webb and Rich McDonough said: “We are hearing conversations with people who say they want to stay away from the crowds at larger malls and out-of-town shopping centres, so we are confident that by providing a safe shopping experience we can give shoppers confidence in the local businesses and also boost the local economy, whilst trying to protect the future of the High Street in Chipping Sodbury.”
At The Globe Pub in Frampton Cotterell, Alex and Lloyd Williams are serving customers in the garden, tables widely spaced and food and drink ordering by mobile phone.
Lloyd said: “Unfortunately, like many pubs and restaurants, numbers are down dramatically. People are still unsure of coming out, and we all need to build peoples’ confidence in the safety implications we have introduced, as safety is the main priority.”