In today’s government announcement, Boris Johnson gave the news that many local businesses and organisations have been eagerly awaiting.
From 4 July, restaurants and pubs, hairdressers, hotels and places of worship will be allowed to reopen, obeying a new ‘one metre plus’ rule.
In addition, two households of any size can now meet up, provided they observe the one metre plus rule.
Non-essential Bedford businesses have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic since 23 March.
While some shops and cafes were permitted to reopen on 15 June, restaurants, bars and hairdressers had been left uncertain about when restrictions on their businesses would be lifted.
Speaking to their Facebook followers, Siobhan Moriarty-Jones of the Cavalier Club Barber Shop, said, “We’ve missed you all and I’m sure your hair has missed us.
“The experience in the shop will be different [to before lockdown] and everyone will have to wear a mask. We’re really looking forward to see you all.”
Mario Cientanni, of Mario’s Hair Design in Kempston, said, “I’m pleased with today’s announcement and looking forward to getting back to work.
“I’ve got a very long waiting list to work my way through but can’t wait to get back into the swing of things. We are awaiting official guidelines, but over the past few weeks have been putting extra health and safety measures in place.
“Many of our clients have kept in touch over lockdown and I’ve got video and photographic evidence of some of the ‘interesting’ home haircuts I’ll have to sort out.”
Cllr Charan Sekhon, Chairman of the SEVA Trust UK, said, “I welcome the decision of reopening of places of worship.
“It was a very difficult decision for all Gurdwaras to close their doors as that had never happened before, but all of them have put the public safety first and following the government guidelines.
“I am in touch with all Bedford Gurdwaras and would like to commend the management committees for their excellent work to draw up practical plans ensuring public safety and meeting government guidelines.
“They have shared their plans with congregation members and additional telephone help is available for anyone not sure about anything.”
St Paul’s Church will be open between the hours of midday and 2pm for private prayer only from Wednesday 24 June and within a roped-off area of the Nave.
Everyone entering and leaving will be required to use the hand-sanitiser (which will be supplied) and observe social distancing.
The team at St Paul’s are still developing their plans for 4 July onwards.
Pubs and restaurants have been particularly hard-hit by the lockdown and many have been working behind the scenes in anticipation of the 4 July reopening.
Pete Wells, group managing director of Wells & Co, said, “We are absolutely delighted to have been given the green light to reopen pubs in today’s Government briefing.
“The relaxation of social distancing to 1m will do wonders for the hospitality industry. We know our team, pubs and partners can’t wait to welcome you back.
“Over our period of closure our teams have been working hard going through the sites, to ensure that we can open safely whilst offering an enjoyable experience for all of our guests.”
The company will gradually reopen its pubs, releasing a full list of the first sites to welcome customers shortly.
The owners of the FatCap Smokehouse on Castle Lane are looking forward to combining their first birthday with the reopening.
“We’re so excited to be given the green light to reopen on our first birthday. We’ve already set out our seating plan in line with the government announcement today,” said owners, Emma and Tony Stevens.
“We’re also setting up online bookings and as soon as we’re sure it’s right, we’ll release the tables. From ordering, to sharing our social media posts, to spreading the word, as a fledgling independent business it’s so important to have local support like we have had from Bedfordians.
“We are continuing our takeaway service this weekend and will work hard to prepare for our epic reopening. We’re so very grateful and appreciate every single one of our customers.”
Despite the government’s relaxation of the social distancing rule, Mayor Dave Hodgson is still urging Bedfordians to stay two metres apart and to remain at home wherever possible, at least until more detailed data on the current local infection rate has been received from Public Health England and the Joint Biodiversity Centre.
While government guidelines may have changed, the situation in Bedford is still very much Stay Safe, Stay Local and Stay Kind.