Last weekend, salons, bars and restaurants across the country reopened their doors to customers after more than three months of closure.
Though detailed UK Government guidelines and new safety measures may have altered the experience of a haircut or meal out, business owners have worked hard to implement rigorous safety measures while ensuring the public can start to feel a sense of normality once again.
Here, chef Tom Kerridge, pub owners Colin Steele and Jade Windsor, and salon owner Sarah Bentley explain how they’re keeping staff and customers alike safe…
The team have prepared a comprehensive Covid-19 policy document with a number of measures to protect the health and safety of guests and staff. Measures include daily staff temperature checks, hands-free antibacterial gel dispensers, one-way systems, private sole-use of bathrooms, cleaning touchpoints and toilets every 20 minutes, and even sanitising deliveries.
Kerridge is also working with a company that provides protection against a wide range of pathogens, including Covid-19, using a sanitising treatment applied through fogging machines to provide an even coat on all surfaces, followed by manual application to hot spots, such as door handles.
“Welcoming, safeguarding and taking care of others is at the very heart of what we do," says Kerridge. "The last few months have been such a challenging time and we have been eagerly waiting to establish a little normality back into everyone’s lives, and get back to what we do best – providing great hospitality and food.”
Kerridge's pubs have also been altered to make sure that spacing is as per UK Government guidelines. Partitions have been placed to ensure people have privacy and are able to enjoy their experience in the same way as before.
Following the success of Meals from Marlow, it has now become a permanent charity and is set to provide 30,000+ meals a year to local people. “I know the people of Marlow are a very generous group but I’m astonished by the speed and the level of kindness," says Kerridge. "Thank you, Marlow, I’m proud of you.”
As a small village salon that’s been open for 16 years, it’s little wonder that The Cutting Room’s loyal clientele had been keenly anticipating its reopening after temporarily closing back in March.
“When the [UK] Government announced we could open, I had over 300 clients on my waiting list,” explains Sarah Bentley, founder of the Welwyn-based business. “And they all wanted Saturday 4th [July] for an appointment.”
A tight-knit team with great customer relationships, Bentley and her employees were excited to get back to a sense of normality. After a meeting last week, they felt reassured about the safety precautions put in place for their return. “It was a bit of relief coming back from staff training and just seeing everybody’s face light up and looking forward to being back,” she says. “We’ve had Zoom meetings discussing all the guidelines.”
The salon may have been closed, but plenty was going on in the background to ensure that the premises and the team were as prepared as possible for a safe reopening.
For example, they worked hard to keep customers informed about changes to their haircutting experience: as well as the salon now being appointment-only, clients have been informed that they are not able to enter the premises before their appointment, as well being asked to wear a face covering.
“Because we are such a small salon, we have screens up between all our sections,” Bentley explains, adding that their booking and payment system has been made completely contactless.
Though refreshments or magazines can no longer be provided, The Cutting Room has set up its outdoor space for clients to sit in a socially-distanced manner.
“We are lucky," Bentley says. "We’ve got a lovely, big back garden, so we’ve bought new tables and chairs. Weather depending, while their colour’s developing, [clients] can sit outside in the fresh air, and [we're] able to have our front and our back door open for ventilation.”
The Cutting Room's kit used has also changed: “We’ve got disposable gowns, towels – everybody’s got all their completely own equipment; it’s all labelled in their name – their own trollies," Bentley adds.
Ultimately, safety is The Cutting Room’s number-one priority. “It’s there to keep us and the clients and my staff safe – and if I felt that they weren’t safe, I would shut the salon tomorrow,” Bentley says. “Everybody’s health comes first.