Leighton Buzzard is back in business as Covid-19 restrictions eased!
Salons and non-essential retail businesses have reopened while pubs, restaurants, and cafes can serve customers outdoors
The sun was shining down on Leighton Buzzard High Street on Monday (April 12), as residents welcomed the latest relaxation of the government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
Non-essential retail businesses, hairdressers and nail salons (personal care), and public buildings, such as community centres, were given the green light to open, with the date also marking the long-awaited return of outdoor service for pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Many residents visited town to celebrate the occasion, and the chairman of LB First, Gennaro Borrelli, hopes the support for the high street will continue.
Speaking on Monday, Mr Borrelli told the LBO: “So many local business owners have been really looking forward to this moment. Everyone has been raring to go.
“Business owners having been getting everything ready, such as new stock and equipment, revamping their premises, cleaning everything and implementing Covid safety measures in readiness to welcoming back all their customers and looking forward to new people visiting as well.
“It’s been a long wait and thankfully the government grants and furlough scheme have helped businesses to just about hang in there.
“We are reminding people to try to do as much of their shopping with as many of the local businesses as possible in order to keep our traditional market town thriving.”
Meanwhile, indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools can also reopen, as well as most outdoor attractions, including zoos and theme parks.
Parent and child/baby and toddler groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old) can also restart indoors.
On Monday, Leighton Buzzard mother Hannah Rolt told the LBO: "I have just had a fab morning at Ragdolly Anna's music class with my son!"
Leighton-Linslade Town Mayor, Cllr Farzana Kharawala, said: “After so many months of non-essential businesses, including those on the market, being closed, I am sure that many of us are looking forward to being able to support our local retailers once again.
“Non-essential retailers have had a very uncertain and worrying time over recent months and although they may now be able to trade again, the additional measures and changes they have had to make are an added expense.
“I wish all our retailers and traders my sincerest good wishes that their businesses are able to return to normal as soon as possible and that local people will support them with their custom.”
Mr Borrelli added: "L.B. First has been working closely with Leighton-Linslade Town Council, the Federation of Small Business, Leighton Buzzard Observer, BeeLocal magazine, Leighton Buzz Radio and Central Beds Council with the welcome back campaigns, new Shop Local and Keeping It Local logos and message, and the www.shoplocallb.co.uk website, promoting small independent businesses and local market traders.
"Central Beds Council is also keen to encourage many cafes, pubs and restaurants to have outdoor seating where safe to do so and are waiving their normal license fee as an incentive and this is something that is being replicated all over the country and a great opportunity - particularly as people will no doubt want food and drink when coming into town to shop and browse. All being well there'll be more things in the pipeline to come, so plenty to look forward to for our local residents; do come into town where a safe environment and a very warm welcome awaits everyone!"
Speaking about Gennaro’s Organic Hair and Beauty, Bridge Street, he told the LBO: "At Gennaro Organic Hair & Beauty we've been absolutely inundated with calls, emails and messages for bookings, like every other salon in town, and like everywhere else we've been busy getting our salon clean and ready to go.
"We will of course be still operating covid safety measures such as all staff wearing PPE; cleaning of chairs, units and equipment in between appointments with sanitiser liquid; clients wearing masks and kept in separate rooms from other clients; ventilation throughout the salon; and plenty of hand sanitiser available.
"Ultimately, it's important for customers to feel safe so that they can look forward to coming into town and doing things such as having their hair done, which for many people is a real treat - a time to relax and something that makes them feel really good. I know the same will apply when they visit other shops, pubs and cafes in town."