Mercury Article: Time to show our highstreet and local businesses some love

This week sees an important milestone for Weston High Street and community shopping areas; the shops are re-opening at last. So I popped in to see a couple, and find out what they’re doing to keep their staff and customers safe.

Some of them have been part-way open for a while, of course. Supermarkets, bakers, butchers and other food shops never stopped, but coffee shops and cafes have been running takeaway services, and shops selling everything from motorbikes to musical instruments, clothing and homeware have been operating mail-order or ‘click and collect’ for months too. I’ve even heard of a gym that has leant out all its weights and equipment so members can keep fit in their garages and spare rooms instead.

But this is the week when things start to feel a bit more normal. Outdoor & Active in Meadow Street are a good example; they’ve got the same lines on the floor that we’ve all got used to in food shops, so customers can keep 2metres apart. Plus there’s sanitising hand gel on the way in and out, and plastic screens as the tills.

There are still a few businesses waiting to reopen. Enterprising pubs like the Fork & Ale near the town hall won’t be allowed to open their doors fully until July at least, but they’ve been running a takeaway beer service and even an online armchair beer festival in the meantime. For them, the review into whether we can be 1 metre apart instead of 2 will be crucial; if 1 metre is safe now infection rates are falling, it will make a world of difference.

So our local shops are ready and waiting to get going again. They’re an important part of our community, so let’s pop in, and show them some love