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Safety first as shops reopen

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By Fiona Reid
Safety first as shops reopen

Hairdressers to hotels, cafes to cinemas, pub chains to independent shops … high streets across the country are opening up again. But it is important it happens safely!

Businesses are ensuring they comply with COVID-19 safety measures such as social distancing signs, PPE and hand sanitisers. Restaurants, salons and theatres are among the venues to put in place new booking procedures, ensuring we can all enjoy meals or watch shows in relaxed and safe environments. It is vital all customers also obey the rules … hands, face, space and fresh air.
For the latest on government guidance, retailers should visit

‘We ensure measures are effective’


The Stephen Joseph Theatre Box Office reopens. Paul Baines is at front desk. pic Richard Ponter

The curtain goes up again at Stephen Joseph Theatre on May 17 while Eat Me Cafe, in the bar area, and a gift shop, in the foyer, will also reopen.
“We were open for nearly six months of last year. We did a huge amount of work including introducing a one-way system, social distancing measures and putting down markers,” said theatre manager Paul Baines.

“One of the biggest challenges was getting people in and out safely.

“We have to ensure the measures are genuine and effective and they are visible. Visible reassurance is important for customer confidence.
“It is a juggling act because you have to balance creating a too clinical atmosphere with offering a unique theatre experience.”

The theatre has been awarded the VisitEngland We’re Good to Go industry standard mark, signifying that it adheres to government and public health COVID-19 guidance, also approved by UK Theatre Seat Safety.

‘People need care and pampering’


Rosie Fraser

Alongside familiar COVID-19 safety measures, Rosie Fraser has introduced a new service called “Silent Treatment”.

“We love a good chat but we also understand some people prefer not to,” said Rosie, whose beauty salon opened in 2019. “Clients can see the service as soon as they look at the online booking menu and add it with whatever treatments they are having.

“We still carry out a full consultation and then let them just relax.”

Also in place are bespoke engraved screens between stations, extra time for cleaning, screening forms for track and trace, PPE and sanitising measures. Rosie emphasises that it is safety with style!
Members of the seven-strong team are carrying out rapid COVID-19 tests at home thanks to the UK Government asymptomatic testing initiative. “We have exciting plans for this year in expanding.

COVID-19 and lockdown has reaffirmed how much people need care and pampering to feel good.”

‘Trade boost from vaccine confidence’


John Lavery

Investment has helped Fish City in Belfast continue operating. The award-winning seafood restaurant extended its seating, installed outdoor heating and started a delivery service. Since reopening for outdoor dining, it has been doing a brisk trade bolstered by confidence in the vaccine programme. Reopening indoors is scheduled to start on May 24.

“We created a dining room upstairs with a completely different feel,” said John, who owns the restaurant with his wife Grainne. Safety processes include a digital thermometer mounted at the door which all staff and customers are required to pass before entering. Anyone recording a high temperature is refused admission.

Hand sanitisers are also available. Kitchen and front of house staff are required to wear masks and wash their hands regularly. Tables and chairs are cleaned rigorously after every diner. The restaurant’s commitment to the safety is also seen in its recognition as COVID-19 Compliant by Tourism NI.

‘We worked hard to train all the team’


Meurig Jones

“If I could do cartwheels, I would” is one retail chief’s response to welcoming the public back.

“When we saw the first trickle of people coming back last month, it was lovely,” enthused village location manager Meurig Jones. “Portmeirion needs people here.

“It’s lovely but it isn’t what it should be without people appreciating it. It’s easier this year in that it was such a new thing when we opened in July. “We had to do a lot of work to train the staff into a new way of working. We’re constantly improving and we’re learning as we go on.”

App orders and one-way systems will ensure ongoing safety. Outside seating, pods and marquee are also available. Misting machines, meanwhile, will keep hotels “squeaky clean – safe for staff and guests”.

Meurig added: “There’s hand sanitiser outside every shop and we ask people to wear masks indoors, but not outside.”

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