Businesses optimistic on reopening day as covid restrictions lift
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
City businesses are feeling optimistic and excited about welcoming people back as coronavirus restrictions lift today.
As part of the government's roadmap out of the coronavirus crisis, non-essential businesses, shops, pub beer gardens, personal care premises including hairdressers and nail salons, visitor attractions and self-contained accommodation and indoor leisure facilities are reopening.
Mark Bone, managing director of Phoenix Gym Norwich on St Marys Works, said: "Everyone seems super excited. We have been inundated with so many positive messages. Everyone is raring to come back. I cannot wait to get started."
He said the closure of gyms had created major mental and physical health problems for many people and the lockdowns over the past year would have forced many small fitness centres to close.
But despite losing out on income and having to invest tens of thousands of pounds in making the gym Covid-secure, Mr Bone added: "We made lemonade out of lemons."
Changes include turning the studios into a boxing area, installing new entrance and exit gates for track and trace purposes, spending a "small fortune" on a new air flow system and building 14 sanitising stations.
The gym is also providing a bottle of sanitising spray and washable cloth to each member for free at each visit.
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Mr Bone, 42, from Sprowston, added: "Everything is safe. The risk of catching coronavirus at gyms is minimal but people who are healthy are more likely to follow rules. Data and common sense shows gyms are safe, especially if people are vaccinated."
Joni Lambert, 38, who runs JL Sports and Massage Therapy from a rented room at GAIN Fitness on Guardian Road, Norwich, said: "I'm pretty positive. I know a lot of my clients really well and they are sensible people so reopening doesn't worry me.
"Everyone is very excited, happy and thankful to come back to me. I feel we have reopened however many times before and you have to deal with it as it comes.
"I feel very fortunate that I have got a good business. I think it will be stronger after the dust has settled and has forced me to make changes that wouldn't have necessarily been done before."
Angela Reeve, 34, who set up Beauty by Angela at her home on Couzens-Hardy Road, Sprowston, in 2019, feels lucky to be able to reopen after a stressful period of not being able to trade for most of the year.
She said: "I feel like I'm starting my job again for the third time I always thought I could reopen but my main fear was people not feeling comfortable coming back. I take safety really seriously and have done everything I can to make people feel as comfortable as possible.
"Everyone wants to come back. I love my job and the social side of it. I miss that normality in life."
David Cox, 57, from Taverham, who runs independent women's fashion store Butterfly on White Lion Street, said there were already plenty people milling about in the city centre where his shop has stood for the past 15 years.
He said: "We are looking forward to getting back. We are very optimistic about things. Most people are looking forward to getting out again. There is appetite from people to go shopping. I think it will be alright."
Mr Cox added he had lost 50pc of his takings over the past year but praised the financial support from the government and council which helped the business tick over.
"We are still trading and will be in the next few years. You have to suck it up," he said.
And Mark White, owner of the Fat Cat Brewery Tap pub on Lawson Road, said people were "gagging to get back to the pub to seek some sort of normality".
He said: "It feels a bit like going back to school after a long summer holiday in that we are nervous but excited. Everyone is bored to the back teeth of what is going on. There is nothing better than going to the pub for a pint. It is the definition of freedom. People will appreciate coming back."
The pub will not be putting up a marquee on its beer garden, which it has been given a major overhaul, as has the rest of the building internally and externally.
Mr White added: "We are relying on the British public's resolve. If it is going to be a bit showery then bring a brolly. We are expecting it to be a nice sunny summer."
But he warned pub-goers: "If people decide not to follow the rules they will be ejected and barred."