In the last two months restaurants, shops, pubs and salons have reopened to the public following enforced closure since March due to the Covid pandemic.
The re-openings have involved putting in place Covid secure measures including screens, social distancing, sanitising stations and entrance and exit routes.
Trainee reporter Aisha Payne has spoken to Thanet businesses about how they are adapting to life post-lockdown, and the new-normal they hope to create for their customers.
Ramsgate – Nice Things
Quirky shop and gallery Nice Things owner Suzy Humphries says customer care and experience has remained at the forefront throughout the process of adapting to the ‘new normal.’
Suzy says it has been a constant learning experience and admits at times it has been incredibly stressful.
A hand sanitising station has been installed and Suzy has created the largest space possible in her store to allow for social distancing.
She has also adapted the way items are displayed and has put away almost 30 percent of her stock so customers can look around the shop as efficiently and safely as possible. The new layout also keeps queuing time to a minimum. Stock is rotated more frequently in order to allow customers to see a wide range of what the store offers. Capacity has been limited to four people at a time and opening times have been reduced to Friday to Saturday.
However, Suzy is also happy to welcome customers who would prefer to browse the shop and gallery alone on the days it is usually shut.
She said that while this is much more work, it allows her to follow government guidelines to the best of her ability while allowing customers the warm welcome they are accustomed to.
During lockdown, she decided that when she re-opened she wanted different, more colourful stock, and the exhibitions now in the gallery reflect this.
Suzy said she wants the “bright colours to be hopeful and uplifting after such troubling times.”
Broadstairs – Salt of the Earth
A business which has remained a welcome constant across the past few months is Salt of the Earth, the sustainable lifestyle and coffee shop located in Broadstairs.
The store, which stocks an array of sustainable goods, remained open throughout lockdown, providing essentials to the community and offering a delivery service and takeaway coffees and cake. N
Now, with a few adaptions, the store is beginning to find its feet in the post-lockdown world.
Customers can now enjoy a vegan pastry and coffee at the stores sunny breakfast bar which is fully operational again, albeit with social distancing. Outside benches which were added in order to provide seating for elderly people queuing, now also provide additional outside space for customers.
The store has kept a limited capacity in order to maintain social distancing and has installed hand sanitizing stations throughout.
Owner Monica Coles, has expressed gratitude for the continued support of loyal customers and has every hope for the future.
As face masks become compulsory in stores this week, some customers have said they will feel uncomfortable wearing them while shopping, but Monica feels that the home deliveries the store offers means this shouldn’t affect business.
She said her partner Alex has remained her chief supporter throughout the pandemic.
Minster – The New Inn Pub
Minster’s ever-popular village pub, The New Inn, has welcomed back visitors with a new set of guidelines. The pub will be operating with new opening times and a slightly reduced menu but bosses Ciaran and Lauren have assured customers they can still count on the great quality food they have come to expect from the business.
Booking is only required for those wishing to dine inside the pub, outdoors tables will be offered on a first come, first serve basis.
The pub garden has also opened, along with the children’s play area. Customers are invited to come along and take advantage of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme which offers 10% off the total lunchtime bill (maximum £10pp), Wednesday to Sunday (including alcohol).
Ciaran and Lauren have outlined The Inn’s primary goal as creating an “enjoyable, relaxed, and most importantly safe environment” for everyone.
Westgate – Beauty Calls
Dark roots and split ends will now be a distant memory as salons open across England and Westgate’s Beauty Calls is no exception.
Run by mother and daughter team Jayne Santi and Samantha Nixon, the salon has been busier than ever as customers flood back for their regular beauty treatments.
Beauty Calls, which has been welcoming customers for more than 13 years, is a home-based salon with purpose-built treatment rooms set in a tranquil garden.
The beauty industry has always been hygiene aware and so, with just a few changes, Jayne and Samantha have found the transition into post-lockdown very smooth.
All non-essential items have been removed from the salon and they shall now be taking contactless methods payment.
For many treatments, customers will be required to bring a mask with them and appointments will be staggered in order to comply with social distancing. Jayne and Samantha have also been re-trained on essential hygiene control and hand hygiene practices.
Overall, they say the process of re-opening post lockdown has been positive as business thrives and customers remain respectful of the current guidelines. While they are only able to run 60% of the beauty treatments they usually offer, from August 1 the salon will be able to offer all beauty treatments once again due to further relaxations of government guidelines.
Cliftonville -Tom Thumb Theatre
Not all businesses have reopened. It has been well documented that the arts industry in particular has suffered during lockdown, and as theatre’s large and small across the country remain empty, the future of those right on our own doorstep are of particular concern.
Theatres will be allowed to reopen on August 1, but on a trial basis with limited capacities although the government guidance says “some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to reopen safely at this point”.
An example of such is Margate’s much-loved Tom Thumb Theatre. As the smallest playhouse in the country, the Tom Thumb only has a 60 seat capacity which would have to be reduced drastically to adhere to the new guidance.
In the meantime there are still ways to support the theatre, with ‘advance’ tickets available to buy via their website.
The theatre is also hosting ‘A Month of Sundays’, weekly live streaming events every Sunday through July. Tickets start from £3 and make a huge contribution to the theatre’s continued survival.