It’s a big day today as shops and businesses re-open after the third national lockdown.
While there’s lots of excitement and there’s likely to be a dash to the hair salon and the beer garden – not necessarily in that order – the message is let’s be safe, let’s be calm and, most importantly, let’s be kind.
While customers might be relieved and excited that some freedoms are returning, spare a thought for business owners and their staff who may not have been working for weeks or months and for whom it’s not as simple as “getting back in the old routine.”
These venues and businesses are now able to reopen:
- All non-essential retail;
- Personal care settings like hairdressers, beauty salons and nail bars;
- Public buildings including libraries;
- Outdoor hospitality like beer gardens;
- Outdoor attractions like zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas;
- Indoor leisure like swimming pools and gyms;
- Self-contained holiday accommodation such as self-catering and camp sites for household stays only.
Huddersfield-based Kate Hardcastle, a business and consumer expert often seen on TV, urged people to support small businesses as many re-opened for the first time this year.
She said: “Non-essential retailers, hairdressers, hospitality outdoors are all going to be vying for our custom. Yes, there has been some financial support but some of those smaller organisations have just had an excruciatingly exhausting time working out how to keep going in the meantime.
“It makes such a massive difference if we as customers can support those smaller businesses by thinking bigger and shopping smaller.
“It does not have to be all of our spend, whatever we can afford. But even a few pounds spent locally makes a massive difference.”
In Huddersfield town centre, streets have undergone a deep clean to welcome people back.
The latest streets to benefit include Market Street, Ramsden Street, High Street, Queen Street, Macauley Street and the Courtyard at the Lawrence Batley Theatre.
Kirklees Council and Huddersfield BID have also joined forces to employ six town centre support officers to help Huddersfield town centre re-open safely and smoothly.
Huddersfield BID manager Matthew Chapman said: “One of the clear indicators that businesses called for in the BID business plan was cleaner streets.
“What better time to do this than just days before non-essential retail and outside hospitality reopens?”
Matthew said making small improvements would boost the big picture. Window vinyls on empty shops and street art would make the high street more attractive and tackling the smaller scale problems, such as graffiti or loose paving slabs, would show that people cared.
Gyms have been missed by many people and one of the biggest, Total Fitness Huddersfield at Waterloo, announced last month it wouldn’t re-open. That followed hard on the heels of the closure of the former DW Fitness gym at Moldgreen last October.
Mark Reynolds, who runs Rawthorpe Amateur Boxing Club and gym at Milnsbridge, said he’d had lots of enquiries as a result of the closures.
As well as getting the premises ready to re-open they’d had an attempted burglary to contend with.
“Everyone is chomping at the bit to get back,” said Mark. “They all want to get back to some sort of everyday normality. Our volunteers have worked tirelessly and we’re ready to rumble!”
If gym sessions have been quickly booked up generally that’s nothing compared to the scramble for an appointment at the hairdresser’s.
Former Huddersfield Town goalkeeper turned barber Matt Glennon, who runs G27 Hair & Beauty Lounge in Emley with wife Nicola, said he’d seen some truly awful DIY haircuts in lockdown and added: “You have to question whether the have-a-go hairdresser actually likes the person whose hair they’ve had a go at!
“But seriously my customers are bursting to get back through the door. I’m having to open on Sundays to avoid being chased down the street! As business owners we just hope this is the last time we’ll have to close our doors.”
Pubs and restaurants have borne the brunt of lockdown closures but outdoor hospitality is allowed from today. However, not all pubs have beer gardens and it’s estimated that only a third of licensed premises are able to re-open.
Some venues have gone to great lengths to cater for customers and have spent thousands of pounds on lavish beer gardens and outside dining. They’ve even had to install outside heaters to keep punters warm this chilly April.
The Blacksmith’s Arms at Kirkheaton has invested a “significant sum” building wooden booths on the patio and installing a fire pit. The beer garden, which has views over Castle Hill and Emley Moor, can accommodate 100 people.
The Old Wireworks at Lindley has also been working hard on its beer garden and has installed a giant outdoor TV screen.
The Woodman Inn at Thunderbridge has also pushed the boat out. Fortunate to have an abundance of open space the pub and fine dining restaurant has turned its formal wedding marquee into a rustic barn called The Garden Room.
The Woodman, which also has rooms and several self-contained cottages, has a new head chef, Andy Lynam, who has worked in some of the country’s top restaurants.
But you’ll have to be patient as The Woodman doesn’t open until noon on Friday April 16.
Back in Kirkheaton, Dave Stanley, landlord at the Beaumont Arms, said he was “gutted” he couldn’t use the fully-kitted out tepee at his pub. Instead he’s stripped it out and built a Covid-compliant marquee. He has 75 outdoor tables.
Dave and his staff were putting the finishing touches to the marquee in the snow on Sunday afternoon. Dave said he had no idea what to expect when he opened from 9am on Monday and joked that he wasn’t ruling out icicles or polar bears.
Speaking on his popular Facebook Live, Dave said: “I don’t know whether it’s going to be rammed at some stage or if it’s going to be a washout and everybody is going to be at the shops.”
Whatever you’re doing on Monday please be kind.