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Business / Reopening date for shops later than hoped but clarity welcomed

Lerwick's Commercial Street. Photo: Shetland NewsLerwick's Commercial Street. Photo: Shetland News

CLARITY that most shops will be able to re-open at the end of the month has been welcomed – but a number of retailers had been hoping to open this weekend.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Thursday that shops with outdoor entrances and exits will be able to re-open on 29 June with social distancing measures in place.

The government said that “interiors of shopping centres remain closed for non-essential shops” until the next phase of exiting lockdown.

Living Lerwick manager Emma Miller said that a number of local retailers had been hoping to welcome shoppers into their premises this weekend.

Emma Miller. Photo: Shetland News

“I had hoped that retail businesses might have been able to open earlier than the date announced,” she said.

“I know a good few of the town centre retailers were gearing up to open this weekend. However, at least we now know when they can open and they will all be working towards that date.

“The key concern for them all is making sure safety precautions are in place so that local folk know they can shop confidently and that staff are also protected from risk.

“While it’s not as soon as I’d like, it’s a positive thing that we know we are moving forward and we are seeing progress in beating this virus.”

In a positive boost for Da Street on Tuesday (23 June) Island Larder will open its new food shop at 97 Commercial Street, in the former Smiths of Lerwick building.

The company also plans to have a street-food takeaway, events kitchen and cafe in the same building but these are not being opened yet.

It comes after it was confirmed that Mirrie Dancers Chocolatier, a stone’s throw away at the Market Cross, has closed as owner Dave Williams focuses the business elsewhere.

Busta House Hotel in the North Mainland meanwhile has put plans for outdoor dining on ice following the Scottish Government’s latest guidance.

It had hoped to allow people to eat at tables in its lawn under cover but the government only said it will review the scientific evidence on how pubs and restaurants can open outdoor spaces safely on 2 July.

Shetland Food and Drink, meanwhile, has welcomed 11 new businesses as members.

Producers Garths Croft, Good Nude Food and Nourished by Kitty have joined up alongside Bigton Community Shop, Bigton Hall and RS Henderson in Cullivoe.

The Bigton Community Shop.

Tour group providers Shetland Wool Adventures and Shetland With Laurie have also come on board, as well as accommodation providers Bo’s B&B, Valleyfield Guest House and Hayhoull B&B.

Over the summer Shetland Food and Drink – which now has over 60 members – will “redouble efforts to promote the virtues of shopping locally and making the most of the bountiful array of fresh food and drink produced within the islands”.

Special discounted rates have also been introduced as part of a drive to widen the group’s umbrella, with associate membership available for £25 for the rest of the calendar year.

Board chairwoman Marian Armitage said: “We’re delighted to welcome new members from a range of related businesses.

“We want to raise the profile of Shetland food and drink as widely as we can – and celebrate the variety of businesses that are passionate about good Shetland food.”