Businesses are being praised for following coronavirus guidance and customers are reminded to adhere to health advice, as the city’s economy continues to recover from the lockdown.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s public protection teams have reported that the reopening of nail and beauty salons and other businesses at the start of the week in line with national guidelines has gone smoothly, and businesses are reporting a strong return of customers.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “In advance of opening, businesses across the city carried out risk assessments, and put in place detailed plans to ensure they can operate safely, both for their workers and customers.
“It is really encouraging to see the sensible and responsible way in which our city is reopening for business again, with people’s health at the forefront of those plans.
“Our public protection teams are continuing to monitor the situation and have given advice to a small number of barbers and pubs to support them in ensuring they have the correct personal protective equipment and social distancing measures.
“Our advice to people visiting stores and pubs is to follow the measures the premises have in place. If they ask for your details at the door then please give them to the business, if they ask you to wear a mask then please do so. Please follow the measures such as one-way systems, social distancing markings and restrictions and use hand sanitisers provided. These measures are for your safety and protection.”
Sarah Woodall, aged 32, runs Ariah Nails and Beauty in Fenton. She reopened her business on Tuesday (14 July), after latest government lockdown restrictions eased. She received £10,000 from the council through the small business grant fund to help her during the lockdown.
Sarah said: “Reopening the salon has been amazing. I felt both nervous and excited but any nerves soon vanished the minute my first client arrived. It’s been so lovely to see my customers again, and I’m very lucky to have such fabulous, loyal clients. I was a bit worried people wouldn’t want to book in, but everyone has been super eager to get back to the salon.
“I’ve introduced lots of new safety measures such as temperature checks on arrival, face masks, perspex screens up on the nail bars and reception desk and spacing appointments out to allow for cleaning between clients. Hopefully this is the start of everything returning back to some kind of normality and I’m extremely grateful to my clients for booking back in to have their treatments done with me. The support from the small business grant fund was fantastic and certainly a big help with paying the rent and bills while we’ve been closed.”
Since 31 March, the council has distributed a total of £51.2m in small business grants, to a total of 4,516 businesses across the city. The council has also issued a total of £1.2m in discretionary grants to a further 250 small businesses, and has identified a potential further 95 businesses to benefit from a second wave of discretionary grants. So far, 109 market traders have received funding totalling £820,000 from the two grant schemes, and a further 21 traders may be eligible for the second wave funding.
Councillor Brown said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our city and we have been determined to work to ensure they can receive funding they are eligible for to help them through this incredibly difficult time.
“It is great to hear how businesses like Sarah’s are reopening responsibly and customers are ready and eagerly waiting to return. We wish all businesses every success in their reopening and continue to urge everyone to follow the restrictions to protect their own health and the health of others.”
The council is also encouraging residents to take part in a new survey to assess the health impact of the coronavirus. The survey will help health and social care providers understand more about how the virus has affected communities in the city.
The survey is being run by Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent and Healthwatch Staffordshire, and focuses on how people have accessed and used health and social care services during the coronavirus pandemic. The responses collected will help to inform the city’s recovery from the outbreak. All responses will be anonymous and the survey will close on Sunday, September 13. The survey can be accessed here.