'We're open!' - Sunderland businesses delighted to reopen their doors from today

Tills will be ringing at businesses across the city today as we enter the next milestone in the roadmap to ease the country out of lockdown.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 7:00 am
Sunderland businesses looking forward to welcoming people back

From today, Monday, April 12, pubs, restaurants and cafes can open their outdoor areas, non-essential retail can welcome shoppers in store and businesses such as beauty salons, hairdressers, gyms and more can serve their customers once more.

It marks the end of a long six months for many, with the North East being under Tier 3, and then lockdown, restrictions since November 5.

The beauty industry has been one of the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic and Just Be in Stockton Road is among the salons eagerly awaiting the return of their clients, many of whom they’ve served for years.

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Just Be salon ready to reopen. From Left Amy Marlee and Abi Mapstone.

Owner Amy Marlee said: “People have been champing at the bit to come back. As soon as the roadmap was announced our inbox was flooded with messages. But, after this year, it’s really nice to know people want to come back.

"You forget how much of a massive part of life treatments are for people, it’s almost like therapy for them to be able to treat themselves and for mams to have time out from their kids.”

Just Be will open its doors from April 13 and they’re fully booked for the first two weeks with larger gaps between appointments for sanitising.

Amy, who has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, said: “Many of my clients have become friends and half of them even came to my wedding, so it will be so nice to be able to sit and chat with them.”

Just Be has invested in Covid secure measures and there are longer gaps between appointments to allow for clean downs,. From Left Amy Marlee and Abi Mapstone.

Like many businesses, delivery orders has seen Ashbrooke Florists in Queen Alexandra Road through an incredibly challenging year.

Melanie Pickersgill, who owns the florists and giftware shop with Michaela Barry, said: “We do feel like we’re a part of the community so it will be nice to see people again. A lot of our customers are elderly and I know they have missed the interaction as much as we have.”

The businesswoman say it’s the support of the community that’s buoyed their spirits in lockdown.

“The support and customer loyalty has been phenomenal,” she explained. “I think the pandemic has seen people rethink their shopping habits, and a lot of people have gone down the shop local route and we think that will continue.”

Just Be has also created a new outdoor seating area for people who are waiting for appointments.

Gyms have also been a huge miss in people’s lives and Fitness 2000 in Roker will be welcoming back gym-goers from 6am today.

Owner Les Ojugbana said: “We’ve had loads of messages from people on social media saying how they can’t wait to return and how happy they are. I think this pandemic has shown us just how important physical fitness and the gym industry is to, not only physical health, but mental health.

"We’re very much a community gym and for some people, getting out and being able to socialise with people at the gym is just as important as the fitness itself.”

For the hospitality industry, there will be a host of outdoor spaces opening, from beer gardens at locations such as Stack Seaburn and Stackyard in West Herrington to coffee shops and restaurants such as Lookout in Seaham and The Looking Glass in Sunniside.

Ashbrooke Florists Michaela Barry and Melanie Pickersgill prepare for reopening the shop

Gemma Dishman, marketing and special projects manager at Danieli Holdings who own Stack, said: “We are eager as anything to welcome people back.

"We want people to be able to enjoy the food, drink and entertainment we offer, within the restrictions we have to adhere to."

Katrina Quinn, publican at Stackyard, which has tripled its outdoor seating ahead of reopening, also hopes people will respect the Covid compliant measures venues must follow.

She said: “We’ve done what we possibly can to adapt and survive. We can’t wait to have people back and for them to be back enjoying themselves, but we also hope people adhere to the restrictions we’ve had to put in place.”

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Les Ojugbana from Fitness 2000. Picture by FRANK REID
Gemma Dishman, Marketing and Special Projects Manager from Danieli Holdings who own Stack Seaburn
Katrina Quinn at Stackyard in West Herrington where they've tripled their outdoor capacity