Whether it’s a long overdue haircut or a trip to the tailor, we’re slowly getting back to normal – here’s how businesses are keeping us safe.
HAIRCUTS MAKE US FEEL HUMAN AGAIN – THAT’S WHY WE’RE HAPPY TO BE BACK
After more than 100 days of leaving our hair to its own devices, people across England are looking forward to getting back to the salon this month.
Sharing that excitement is business owner Joe Mills, whose esteemed grooming brands Joe & Co and The Lounge reopened in London’s Soho on Saturday.
‘I’m really happy to welcome everyone back,’ says Joe. ‘Since the lockdown, we’ve had customers contacting us regularly, saying, “Help – I’m on Zoom calls all day, and I look like a woolly mammoth!” Haircuts make us feel human again. That has more value than ever right now.’
Hair stylist Joe, who opened his first salon in 1998, says he ‘grieved’ for his business when the doors shut in March. But he has spent the past month completely refitting the spaces to create a safe environment for his team of 45 and their loyal clients.
‘The best thing we could do to reassure everyone it was safe was to make the spaces as Covid-secure as possible. To do that, we looked at reopenings in Italy, Spain and France, and then conducted our own thorough risk assessment in line with UK Government guidelines,’ he says.
Day-to-day changes for staff include staggered start and finish times and bubble systems to limit the spread of the virus. Salons will now operate at around 70 per cent of normal capacity, with cleaning time built into each day, and layout alterations that limit the number of chairs on the premises.
‘We’re in the middle of Soho, so space is at a premium. To help keep clients at a safe distance, new floor markings will guide them, while screens are installed where one metre is not possible,’ Joe says. ‘To give our clientele that extra confidence to come back, we’ve kept in constant communication, via newsletters, Instagram and Facebook, so they know how seriously we’re taking the measures.
‘We’re nearly fully booked for the next three weeks, so we know the demand is there.’
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
From temporary parking to pre-booked appointments, here are the top tips for planning your day out
• Double-check opening times as some hours may be reduced.
• Do you need to pre-book online? It’s best to check first.
• Don’t forget your bank card – many outlets prefer cashless payments.
• Carry hand sanitiser just in case you can’t wash your hands.
• Always wear a face mask on public transport.
• Temporary changes may affect parking – do your research before you set off.
• Even outdoors, keep a one-metre distance from people outside your household.
• Toilet access may be limited, so make sure you don’t get caught short.
IT’S TIME TO WELCOME COMMUNITIES BACK TO THEIR FAVOURITE LOCALS
Now that pubs and bars can reopen across England, customers are rediscovering their favourite watering holes.
For one family-run pub in Nottinghamshire, the focus has been on protecting regular punters who gather at their local to maintain their friendship groups.
‘We are a community hub, especially for a few older customers, who have come here for years,’ says Kathryn Boam, who owns the Dog & Parrot Real Ale House in Eastwood with husband, David.
‘Our priority is safeguarding them, making sure that social-distancing guidelines are in place – and kept to.’
Among the measures Kathryn and David have implemented are markers on the floor to maintain distancing and clear signage throughout the pub. Anyone not following the instructions will be asked to leave.
The Dog & Parrot will now operate as table service only, so punters won’t need to approach the bar, where only one member of staff is now serving drinks.
Kathryn says: ‘We’ve worked closely with other local landlords to make sure we’re all aligned in our actions.
‘After a full risk assessment of our operations and premises, we decided on the ideas and plans that worked best for us to be Covid-19 secure.’
The business owners have five part-time staff, and one full-time, but they will have more staff on duty to maintain their measures effectively, which include regularly deep-cleaning glassware and surfaces, as well as the toilets.
Now, 106 days since the closure, they believe everything is in place. ‘We’re keen to keep the Dog & Parrot atmosphere as authentic as possible and for customers to have as much fun as always,’ says Kathryn. ‘But our main priority is keeping customers and staff safe and well.’
What can I do that I couldn’t do before?
As of this week, the rules in England have been relaxed to allow more businesses to open and help us get outdoors more. Here’s what you can and can’t do.
I can meet in groups of up to two households in any location (public or private, indoors or outdoors).
I cannot get any closer than one metre, even inside someone’s home.
I can enjoy certain services, such as hair salons and barbers.
I can visit reopened venues, including restaurants, pubs, cinemas, aquariums, hotels, and campsites.
I cannot gather in groups larger than 30 people.
I can stay overnight away from home with my household or support bubble, or members of one other household.
EVERYONE’S READY TO GET DRESSED UP AGAIN – THAT’S WHERE WE COME IN
From occasion dressing to office attire, wardrobe essentials have dropped down the priority list since we all stayed at home for lockdown.
But Savile Row-trained tailor Kathryn Sargent, whose eponymous Mayfair atelier has reopened for pre-booked appointments, says excitement is building for getting ‘all dressed-up again’.
‘The feeling I get from my clients – from all over the world, from different cultures and jobs – is that they can’t wait to dress up properly again,’ says Kathryn, who established her bespoke tailoring business in 2012.
‘I’ve been really excited about getting back to business,’ she adds.
‘Tailoring is so much more than just walking into a shop and making a purchase – we offer an intimate service that you can’t replicate over Zoom.’
Sargent has been adapting her business practices over the past two months to conform with the UK Government’s new guidelines. Safety measures in place include regular cleaning of surfaces and door handles, hand-washing stations, plus 72-hour quarantining for clothes.
She continues: ‘All our staff now wear visors during fittings. There are also masks and disposable gloves for clients if they want them. We invite customers to wash their hands when they arrive and leave, and while we do have a kitchen, we’re no longer offering drinks.’
The bespoke service is still every bit as inviting. So, what does a contact-free welcome at Kathryn Sargent Bespoke Tailoring look like now?
‘Big smiles and lots of eye contact,’ says Kathryn. ‘When you can’t shake someone’s hand, you have to find other ways to make it warm and welcoming for clients. It’s all about providing a lovely environment to regain the confidence of our customers.’
‘We’re good to go’ What does the mark mean?
The official stamp of a shop, attraction or venue that’s back in business, post Covid-19. It’s a seal of approval, showing that companies are following clear, industry-standard processes and the UK Government’s guidance on cleanliness and social distancing to keep us all safe and well-protected.