Delight as non-essential shops could reopen in April

Non-essential businesses in Derby says they have been given some hope of returning to normality after the Government announced they might be able to reopen in April.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said non-essential retailers and other businesses such as hairdressers, salons and gyms, could welcome customers back by April 12.

It comes after he announced plans to take the country out of lockdown over the course of the next several months, beginning with children returning to schools in early March.

Following this, restrictions will be loosened bit-by-bit at five week intervals, although these could be delayed if infection rates do not drop as expected.

This has left businesses, which have been either closed or operating under vastly different circumstances to normal since lockdown was imposed in January, hoping they can have customers back inside as soon as possible.

Matthew Sheard, managing director of Hunters Furniture Derby, said while his business had remained open for deliveries during lockdown, he is eager to get people back in his store.

“We’ve been very much waiting for it,” he said. “It’s been a hard slog over the last year and it’s just really really good to have a date.

“I was expecting it to be at least the end of March, so that’s not too far away.

“It will be fantastic to just have customers in the physical store again. We are very much still a high street business.

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The 45-year-old added that he was eager to be able to take his staff off part-time furlough and bring them back to work full time when able.

“It’s such a big store that it’s quite easy to socially distance inside,” he said.

“We had our best ever October and our best ever December last year, so we know we are in a strong position for when people can come back.”

Julie Hardman, who runs Santino’s Gym off Ashbourne Road with her partner Kim Santino, said it couldn’t come soon enough for their customers after their business was forced to close at the beginning of January.

“April is still a way off and some of our gym members are struggling with their mental health,” the 57-year-old said.

“We have all sorts of people who come here such as doctors and solicitors – people who need that time out.

“If we were allowed to open we would do so in an instant, we would be working until 3am to make it safe.”

She added they would wait until getting the go ahead before doing so and noted it was a positive development.

“However, we’re looking forward to having an actual date to work towards so that we have a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

“We can’t wait to throw open the doors, get the music on and heat that wonderful sounds of people laughing and joking as they get back into their training routines.”

Linda Boogaerts, who runs Selena’s Contemporary Flowers in the Cathedral Quarter, said she was happy to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Linda Boogaerts, who runs Selena’s Contemporary Flowers, says she is keen to have a something to look forward to
(Image: Linda Boogaerts)

“I believe it’s a good first step back to normality, as long as we keeping trading carefully,” the 57-year-old said.

“Things won’t be completely normal, we will still have to social distance and keep the awareness out there to protect ourselves and our customers.

“We’ve been here for just over seven years and this year has been difficult. It was difficult on the high street before the pandemic.

“We know from feedback that people appreciate little independent businesses like us.”

Kylie Dallison, who runs a home-based salon called Kylie’s Beauty, said she was delighted to be able to get a provisional date in the diary, after weeks of uncertainty.

Kylie Dallison, who runs Kylie’s Beauty, says she is grateful to have a provisional date in her diary
(Image: Kylie Dallison)

The 32-year-old said it had been a tough year for her business, as lockdowns took their toll.

“If I did not live with my partner I would not be able to survive,” she said. “I totally agree with the schools opening first and getting them back into education.

“I was worried they would tell us not to open until after retailers. We just wanted a bit of certainty – it takes days to order stock and get things ready.

“I’m over the moon we now have a date to get back to work. I really thought it wouldn’t be until around May, so fingers crossed everything goes to plan.”

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