Freedom Day brings little change so far for Washington businesses as restrictions ease

The lifting of Covid restrictions does not so far appear to have made much difference either way to businesses in Washington.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 3:22 pm

Monday, July 19 was designated as ‘Freedom Day’, when the wearing of masks in shops, pubs, salons, taxis and elsewhere is no longer mandatory.

The Government says people will still be expected to wear a face covering in “enclosed indoor spaces”, but it won’t be legally enforced.

The Echo has spoken to a number of business in various industries. Bosses say that while it is very early days, the signs so far are that customers are mainly carrying on as before – wearing masks and taking other precautions.

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Clockwise from top left: Donwell Village Store, Faye Bryant outside her Bohdot salon, Olivia's Coffee House and the Cross Keys pub.

Faye Bryant who runs Bohdot hair salon on Village Lane, said: “We’ve decided to still wear masks. We’re up close and personal. The customers are happy to wear them too. They only have to keep them on for about an hour; we can be wearing them for up to 16 hours. Legally, they don’t have to. But they’re fine with it.

“If people aren’t sensible we’d still have to isolate and that would be bad for business. We’ve waited this long, so we don’t mind being careful.”

Emma Liddle, who works at Olivia's Coffee House in Washington Village, said: “Most people have sat outside anyway because the weather’s been so nice.

“I haven’t had many customers actually coming inside so far, but the ones who have are still wearing masks. People are still very wary.”

Faye Bryant, owner of Bohdot hairdressing salon.

Ravindrnathan Thineshkumar, manager of Donwell Village Store, said: “Most of our customers are still wearing masks. I’ve said to my staff to still wear them too. We’re getting a new screen because the one we have is damaged and we’ll still have the sanitiser.

“Only a few of the customers haven’t been wearing masks.”

At the Cross Keys pub too the difference has been minimal. A return to serving drinks at the bar is the biggest change.

General manager Kimberley Cheetham said: “All the staff are still wearing masks and the majority of customers are wearing them too; although not all.

Kimberley Cheetham, general manager at the Cross Keys. Picture by Frank Reid.

“We still have the track and trace too, customers seem to want to use that. We take drinks orders at the bar, but you can’t then stand there. We’re still doing table service too.”

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