"Independence Day" welcomed by Gloucestershire business
By Rob Freeman | 24th June 2020
July 4 has been heralded as "Independence Day" for many small businesses which will be able to reopen after more than three months.
Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers which will able to open at the start of next month after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the latest, and largest, relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.
They will need to adhere to guidelines published by the Government with a reduction of the two-metre social distancing rule to one-metre plus - meaning the gap between people can be cut in half if the right safety measures have been taken.
Those include reconfiguring seating, minimising self-service and wearing visors in the case of hairdressers with customers urged to book in advance and order online or through apps.
Punchline-Gloucester.com asked business figures from across Gloucestershire and beyond about the impact of the latest move.
Steve Collins, chairman of Visit Gloucestershire and hotel group sales director at Hatton Collection
"The sector is delighted to have confirmation of a date, it enables all hospitality businesses to prepare and get ready for opening.
"Together we will work with the guidance to ensure we bounce back prepared and that visitors to Gloucestershire can feel confident businesses are set up and ready with a warm welcome.
"At the Hatton Collection, we are having a complete review of the customer journey, reviewing all of our processes in regards to cleaning and service delivery, preparing dining experiences, our rooms, our bars, touch points and processes to protect our customers and our people.
"We will be ready, but we don't intend to open all of our hotels and pubs on July 4. It is important we don't rush, we want to be prepared and ready to deliver an enjoyable experience.
"There was an uplift in enquiries straight after the announcement yesterday, August is more popular, I think people will be waiting to see what happens and how things goes.
Sam Holliday, Gloucestershire development manager, Federation of Small Businesseses
''I think this is great news for everybody in the hospitality sector and I know there will have been a real sense of relief among many businesses when the Prime Minister made his key statement yesterday.
"The difference between keeping people two metres apart and one metre is absolutely huge in terms of the potential profitability of many of our hospitality, service and leisure industries in Gloucestershire.
"Although it will mean a lot of work for many such firms to get on track for July 4, it really will feel like Independence Day for many of them.
"Safety, of course, must always come first and we know that Gloucestershire businesses will do everything they can to make us all feel safe and secure but it is also down to all of as potential customers to respect the rules and also respect all the staff in the pubs, restaurants, hair salons and leisure sectors as they embark on the vital revival stage we have all been waiting for."
Kevan Blackadder, director, Cheltenham BID
"It has taken far too long for the date to be confirmed, but it's great news that our hospitality businesses, hairdressers and barbers now know they will be able to open again on July 4.
"The decision to cut the social distancing gap to one metre at the same time, if the scientific advice supports it, is a sensible one as it gives pubs, cafes and restaurants in particular a chance to set themselves up to serve many more customers.
"As well as being the Festival Town, Cheltenham has built a superb reputation for the wide range of restaurants it has on offer.
"We need them to be open again and attracting people from across the region and beyond back to the town.
"What has not been given quite as much publicity is the reopening of our hotels, which is crucial as we look to rebuild from the impact that the pandemic has had. Again, we have so many fantastic places for visitors to stay.
"But perhaps the biggest queues are going to be at our many hairdressers and barbers - I'm follically challenged myself but even I need to get this mess on the top of my head sorted out."
Phil Smith, managing director, Business West
"These steps will enable more companies to reopen and will be cautiously welcomed by the business community.
"While the relaxation of the two-metre rule will help more firms increase capacity, we are still a long way from business as usual.
"Broader efforts to boost business and consumer confidence will still be needed to help firms trade their way out of this crisis.
"A comprehensive test and trace system, including a mass testing regime, must be in place to realise the benefits that the easing of restrictions could bring to firms across the UK, many of whom are relying on the swift return of consumer confidence.
"Businesses also need a clear roadmap to recovery, including fresh support for the worst-affected sectors and geographic areas, and broader fiscal measures to get the economy moving again."
Emma McClarkin, chief executive, British Beer & Pub Association
"This is an important step for us but it is just the first step on what will be a very a long road to recovery for our sector.
"While the Government hasn't given us the three weeks minimum notice we asked for to get our pubs ready for reopening, thankfully as an industry we already started our preparations to ensure our pubs were ready to open when we were given the green light.
"It's great to see the Government adopt the WHO guidance and the examples of many other countries across the world who've safely reopened their hospitality sectors using one metre as their safe social distance measure.
"This will enable many more pubs to begin to get back on their feet and will help save thousands of pubs and jobs. We estimate that this decision will enable up to 28,000 pubs to open."
Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality
"The Government has given due recognition to how hard hospitality has been hit by this crisis.
"Our sector was one of the first to be seriously affected and we are going to be one of the last to reopen. Getting venues open again, even with social distancing measures in place, is the best way to secures businesses and jobs.
"While many venues will endeavour to reopen on July 4, capacities will be constrained by social distancing and some may be unable to trade viably at all, so continued Government support will remain crucial.
"Many businesses have been closed for months with no revenue and are now facing substantial rent and PAYE bills. We need financial help from the Government, otherwise some of these businesses are going to go under right at the point at which they are allowed to open once again."
Helen Dickinson, chief executive, British Retail Consortium
"Retailers have worked hard to effectively implement social distancing measures during the pandemic and the safety of staff and customers will continue to be their main priority.
"The reduction will support shops, which have faced limits to footfall - and therefore spending - as a result of the distancing measures.
"The reopening of restaurants, bars and other services will also help encourage people back to our high streets."
Paddy Lillis, general secretary, Usdaw
"Reducing the two-metre rule in stores could be disastrous for our members and send a message to the public that social distancing is over.
"It has taken a lot of hard work and effort to make the changes to encourage customers to follow two-metre distancing in shops that stayed open throughout the lockdown.
"Changing the rules would be an unnecessary burden on business, compromise the safety of staff and customers, and create confusion."
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