‘I’m feeling really anxious about reopening’, says B&B owner

im feeling really anxious about reopening says bb owner - 'I'm feeling really anxious about reopening', says B&B ownerImage copyright Lindsey Holland
Image caption Lindsey Holland does all the cooking for guests at her B&B

This year, 4 July will hold a different kind of celebration as a range of hospitality and similar firms in England are finally allowed to reopen for business.

But with government guidance still not clear, how prepared are they?

The BBC spoke to a pub, a salon and a B&B to find out how ready they are for the next phase of lockdown easing.

Really anxious

“I’m feeling really anxious about reopening as I just don’t know what’s coming.”

Lindsey Holland runs the Cleeve Hill Hotel, a 12-bedroom B&B in Gloucestershire.

She runs the business on her own and worries that reopening rules may make that impossible.

“I’m going to be really interested to see how much I’m going to be allowed to achieve by myself, when I have to switch from cooking to cleaning, for instance.”

Many B&B staples will disappear, not least the buffet breakfast.

“I’ve heard that breakfasts may have to be delivered to rooms, which isn’t practical for me as a one-person business.

“I also can’t afford to buy room service trays.”

Free magazines and the help-yourself minibar will also have to go.

Lindsey reckons she will be able to open up three quarters of the hotel now the social distancing rule has been lowered from 2m to 1m. At 2m, she would only have been able to run at 50% capacity.

However, she says if bookings don’t pick up then it may not be worth her while opening the doors at all in July.

“4 July is just two weeks away and we’re only now getting bits of pieces of details of what the rules may be.

“Even if I do reopen and we have enough bookings, a second wave could mean the end for us.”

New normal

“We’ve spent a lot of time during lockdown getting ready for the new normal.”

Simon Daws has run the Gloucester Old Spot pub in Cheltenham for a decade, but recent times have been his biggest challenge, he says.

Image copyright Simon Daws
Image caption Simon Daws runs the Gloucester Old Spot pub

“We’ve been waiting for news of when we can reopen with different dates being bandied around, which hasn’t been helpful.”

He says he would have preferred more than a couple of weeks of notice to get the right beer in and get staff back from furlough, but he is still eager to get people back into the pub.

The pub industry is desperate to reopen and cutting the social distancing rules to 1m will have a major impact, he says.

“If the distance is 1m then pubs with generous garden areas can make a go of it,” he says.

His pub has room for 160 people outside but they’ve had to change things to prepare for reopening.

“We don’t need plastic screens as people won’t come into the pub. Instead we’re switching to a continental style of service with our staff taking orders on a handheld device and using disposable menus to reduce the risk to customers,” he says.

Image copyright Simon Daws

Even then, he’s not confident that reopening will be a success.

“We will be walking a tightrope. We are relying on sunny weather to make the new system work.”

He is also worried about rumours that customers will have to book a table and supply the names of everyone on the table.

“It’s just putting more hurdles in our way, which is not good news for an industry that’s on its knees.”

Confusing guidelines

Jo Dyer runs Plymouth hairdressing salon Yoke with husband Steve, and will be able to reopen on 4 July. But the last few weeks have been nerve wracking.

“The guidelines keep changing so we don’t know yet what we need to do to open safely – or what kind of protective equipment will be necessary.”

Image copyright Jo Dyer
Image caption Jo Dyer runs the Yoke hairdressing salon with husband Steve

The salon plans to reopen with half of its eight stations to ensure clients remain a safe distance from each other.

Opening hours will be extended to cover 08:00-20:00 every day except for Sunday to accommodate as many customers as possible, even with half as many stations and stylists available.

Meanwhile clients will only have contact with one person, with stylists washing hair instead of apprentices.

Now the reopening date has been confirmed, Jo hopes to start booking in appointments – although those wanting hair colouring will have to book in for a skin test first.

They are waiting to find out what protective equipment they will need.

“We don’t know what grade facemasks we’ve got to have or what kind of gloves we need, given we’re washing our hands constantly in normal times.

“We have some cloth facemasks but they may not fit in with the guidelines.”

Staff and customer safety will be paramount, she says, which means throwaway gowns instead of their normal eco-wear.

“It goes against our ethical principles, but we’re going to have to compromise to stay within the rules, it seems,” Jo says.

Will your business be reopening on 4 July? How will the easing of lockdown affect you? Share your thoughts by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist.

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