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Coronavirus / Local businesses welcome clarity on reopening dates

Pubs and hairdressers among those given target dates

The Cornerstone cafe/restaurant in Scalloway. Photo: Peter Johnson/Shetland News

BUSINESSES across a range of sectors in Shetland have welcomed clarity from the Scottish Government today (Wednesday) on when they might be able to reopen.

From 15 July indoor hospitality – such as pubs and restaurants – will be able to open with social distancing measures in place, while hairdressers will be able to open their doors from that day too.

Museums, galleries, cinemas and libraries will be able to open with measures in place from 15 July too.

Before that self-catering accommodation will be able to open on 3 July before outdoor hospitality gets the green light on 6 July.

Living Lerwick manager Emma Miller said it was “potentially good news” for some businesses.

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

However, she said some are still left in limbo.

“If all goes to plan and the pubs, cafes, restaurants and hairdressers can reopen from 15th then the street will certainly be a bit busier,” Miller said.

“It will be a relief to so many businesses just to have that date, even if it does come with a caution that it will only apply if the statistics continue to be favourable.

“The first minister also promised more detailed guidance for these sectors so I’m keen to see that issued as soon as possible.

“I am concerned that we still don’t have a date for some other businesses though. Beauticians and tattooists aren’t covered and we are still waiting to hear when dentists and opticians will be able to see non emergency customers. Hopefully that will come soon.”

Lerwick Tattoo shop Aurora Ink said it could be another couple of months before it reopens.

Miller also welcomed that self-contained holiday accommodation will be able to open for guests from 3 July, along with the easing of the five-mile restriction on travelling for leisure.

“This will allow local folk here in Shetland to start moving about, using self catering accommodation if they want to,” she said.

Proprietor of the Cornerstone cafe/restaurant in Scalloway Terry McCaffrey hopes to have an outdoor licence in time for the reopening of pubs on 15 July.

McCaffrey said that Scalloway had suffered massive blows in the space of a few months and he hoped to re-invest in the village, but not by taking on the Scalloway Hotel.

He added: “Our plans to do social distancing outside on benches all depends on the licence. Everyone is just in a state of sink or swim at the moment so it is just a case of grasping at everything.

“I am certainly interested in re-investing in the village if the opportunity comes up.”

He said that though the Cornerstone had been operating a very successful takeaway during the Covid-19 lockdown period, takings were down about 30 per cent on where they were this time last year.

“But that is not a concern because I understand why it is down,” he added.

He said that Scalloway’s troubles had arrived unexpectedly and sincerely hoped that something could be done to put things back some way to where they were.

Mareel’s screen one.

Owner of the Maryfield Hotel in Bressay James Thomas welcomed the news that pubs and hotels can reopen in three weeks time.

He said: “It’s fantastic. We definitely will be open on the fifteenth as long as we can get the supplies of beer. It is good news for us, just what we needed.”

Thomas said that the hotel had to dump six kegs that were out of date, but he expected there would be massive demand in time for the reopening.

He hoped that the two metre distancing rule will be relaxed before the fifteenth or it will not be viable to reopen.

Thomas said that it would be next year before the business was making any money again, with the loss of Wool Week a particularly heavy blow.

“This has affected everyone else, but at least we are healthy and that is the main thing,” he added.

Shetland Arts chief executive Graeme Howell said it is “great” that the government feels confident to stick to its initial timetable.

The organisation runs a cafe/bar and cinema at Mareel, as well as Bonhoga Gallery.

He said that Mid-July had always been a possible date for moving into phase three of exiting lockdown.

Howell added that a target reopening date for Shetland Arts’ buildings has not yet been confirmed.

Jennifer Jamieson of Shetland Hillhead Self-Catering, meanwhile, said it was “great news we can open and have all the guidelines now available to make it safe to do so”.

She said all of their properties have their own private entrances with no shared/communal areas.

News that hairdressers could open from mid-July has been welcomed by many who have had to endure a ‘lockdown hairstyle’ over the last number of weeks and months.

Isaac Webb of Tooth and Nail Barber Surgeons in Lerwick said he was “really excited” to aim for a reopening on 15 July.

He warned, though, that things could change as the date was only indicative.

Webb said that he is waiting until more detailed guidance is available before reopening bookings – despite receiving a number of enquiries.