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Community / Social distancing rules delay reopening for some

SHETLAND inched back to a further sense of normality earlier this week when cafes, pubs, restaurants and hairdressers were allowed reopen with social distancing and hygiene measures in place.

But there are some businesses and attractions that are finding themselves having to remain shut while others reopen as a result of their size and layout.

The popular Michaelswood community woodland in Aith is still closed for the time being, with owner Ray Ferrie saying it “cannot comply with the strict social distancing or sanitising regulations”.

A further review of its situation will take place at the start of August as Scotland moves towards phase four of exiting lockdown, although a visit from environmental health next week could make things clearer.

He said one of the main problems is the size of the paths in the woods.

“We are taking advice all the time,” Ferrie said. “As soon as we can open, we will open.”

He added that the team at Michaelswood is very conscious to make the area safe for people when it does reopen.

Work has been ongoing there during lockdown, though, including the planting of tree years, painting and grass cutting.

“The woodland is looking absolutely beautiful but nobody can come in and see it,” Ferrie added.

The tea room not too far away at East Burrafirth has also decided to remain shut as it says it is unable to effectively implement social distancing.

The cafe is situated in a small former croft house which counts cosiness as one of its draws.

The two-metre social distancing rule can be relaxed to one metre for indoor hospitality like pubs, restaurants and cafes, but only if the operator is able to introduce additional measures in mitigation.

Owner Lynn Johnson wrote on Facebook that the tea room is “very hopeful that things continue to progress and we can reopen safely in the not too distant future”.

The adjoining cake fridge is still in trade though, with an expanded takeaway offering including items like soup and hot drinks during set hours.

In Lerwick the Fort chip shop’s cafe side is staying closed due to its size – but takeaways are still running, with limited numbers of people allowed in at one time.

At the other end of Commercial Street Captain Flints is unable to reopen yet – despite other pubs being back in action – due to parts of its layout.

The bar said a key issue is the staircases, especially the tighter one leading upstairs to the toilets.

The Havly Cafe in Lerwick, meanwhile, has decided not to reopen.

The business had recently been advertised for lease.

It was also confirmed this week that the Pierhead bar in Voe, which was put on the market last year, will also not be reopening.