How businesses here have the necessary measures in place to help us enjoy summer safely
Here's how our local businesses are ensuring your visit to their premises is both safe and enjoyable
People in Northern Ireland are being encouraged to enjoy summer safely by following official advice and staying safe. Pubs, restaurants, bars and hairdressers here are following UK Government advice and making plans to reopen, marking the start of summer.
Safety measures to protect staff and customers are being put in place, with people asked to be sensible, continue to follow social distancing messages and stay close to home to support local business.
To help people plan days out, the UK Government has launched the Know Before You Go website at visitbritain.com/gb/en/know-before-you-go
Here, we look at what action businesses have taken to ensure we can all enjoy summer safely.
The UK Government is helping thousands of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen safely with detailed practical information to help keep staff and customers safe.
UK Government officials have worked alongside over 300 key industry stakeholders and trade unions to develop clear plans in line with scientific advice and public health directions, building on existing guidance published in May.
The new guidance sets out a range of measures for pubs and restaurants to become Covid-19 secure, including:
- requiring use of table service where possible instead of ordering at the bar and assigning a single staff member per table
- encouraging use of contactless ordering from tables where available, such as through an app
- discouraging non-essential trips by staff within venues, such as between the kitchen and front of house, by using radios and other electronic devices to communicate
- encouraging customers to use hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities as they enter the venue
- providing clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene as people arrive on the premises, with signage and visual aids
Business Secretary Alok Sharma explains: “We know this pandemic has been particularly hard for people working in hairdressing and hospitality. Allowing pubs, restaurants and hairdressers to open will be another step in our plan to kickstart our economic recovery in a safe manner.”
The guidance that is set out provides clear, practical steps businesses can take to open in a way that is as safe as possible for workers and customers.
Separate guidance has been published for hairdressers, which states that a clear visor should be worn by the person providing the service, covering the face and providing a barrier between the wearer and the customer from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking.
The government is also consulting with industry on how businesses should record customer information to help keep customers and employees safe and support the new test and trace system.
Guidance for your business
The UK Government has published guidance to support businesses to reopen and keep workers and customers safe so they feel confident to return.
To find out about measures your business needs to implement to reopen safely, there is an online tool, which will direct you to guidelines specific to your type of workplace at gov.uk/coronavirus-business-reopening.
If you run a business and would like to know which of the coronavirus support schemes you are eligible for, you can use the business support finder tool. It takes just minutes to complete and will help you easily find support for your business.
‘We’ll welcome those desperate for their first haircut in months’
Hairdresser and barber Claire McKittrick faced worrying times when she had to close her salon The Barber’s Den, which also houses the Hairdresser’s Den. But Claire, her staff and her customers are delighted that the Lisburn business is reopening after putting safety measures in place.
Claire first opened the Barber’s Den four years ago and such was its popularity she also decided to expand to include The Hairdresser’s Den for all the ladies of Lisburn.
When they had to put the business on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was an understandably worrying time for Claire and her staff.
She said: “I am heavily pregnant. I’m 37 weeks now. When I found out the salon had to close the first thought was stress, panic, and what is going to happen to my clients. We closed early. We have about 30 to 40 clients a day so that is a lot of footfall and I had a real concern about safety.”
Claire and her team have been busy getting the salon ready to welcome back her valued customers. With the rearrangement of the salon to allow social distancing, the introduction of PPE, risk assessment and team training, Claire is ready for the influx of people who are desperate for a haircut after the long months of lockdown.
Claire adds: “The guidelines are good. We have posters up with the guidelines on them and I have held a team meeting to carry out a risk assessment and explain to the staff what is expected of them.
“Hand sanitisers have been installed and everywhere has been thoroughly cleaned.
“There are face coverings and shields for the staff and we will provide coverings for the customers if they would prefer to wear them. We also have gloves and aprons for the staff.
“We are advising people to make appointments but if there is a ‘walk in’ I have been advised that I don’t have to turn them away.”
'Clients and staff will feel safe in our salon'
Edinburgh Hair and beauty salon That Rosie Glow is preparing to open for business on July 15 after almost four months of closure. A number of safety measures will be in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 when the business opens.
The salon has already installed clear screens between each treatment station, and at the reception desk.
Customers and staff will be asked to wear face coverings, and customers will be requested to visit the salon alone where possible, and arrive on time rather than early to reduce time spent in the waiting area.
They will have to keep their coats and belongings with them instead of them being hung up by staff, and there will be no magazines or refreshments available.Each station and any equipment used will be thoroughly cleaned between customers, and clean towels or gowns will be used with each one.
Salon owner Rosie Fraser said: “We closed on March 23, but we have kept our social media active and positive, and kept in touch with clients.”
The salon, which opened in January 2019, has nine members of staff who are all self-employed. Ms Fraser said she has tried to make the new measures as comfortable as possible, including the screens bearing the salon’s name. She said: “I wanted to make sure the clients and also the staff felt safe coming back, and we also wanted people to feel like it’s a nice experience and not too clinical. In this new normal we will be coming into we wanted to have safety but with style so that women still feel like they are having an enjoyable experience.”
'Orders starting to pick up again'
When lockdown was announced, luxury knitwear company Corgi knew they had the experience to get through the Covid-19 crisis. The Welsh firm – which has a Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales – has ridden many an economic downturn in its illustrious 128-year-old history. Co-owner Chris Jones, who is great-great grandson of the company’s founder, said: “We take a view that you can get through anything. I think it makes it easier because we’ve been through crises before.”
It helped that the Ammanford-based firm had been through five fantastic years before coronavirus struck. In March they furloughed 50 of their 65 staff but now many are returning as orders begin to pick up. Corgi makes hand-finished wool, cotton and cashmere socks and other knitwear and Chris said: “Normally we run two shifts on the sock machine, so we kept going with one. Next week going back to one and a half shifts – we’re going to have the other knitters coming in some of the time.”
With shops reopening, old customers are beginning to ask for new sales catalogues and Chris expects business to pick up properly in around a month. What has helped the business survive more than anything though was the package of financial help the Government made available.
Chris said: “The furlough scheme has practically saved us. Without it, we’d have been in a lot of trouble or we’d have managed but we’d have had to let a lot of people go.”