Re-opening will bring back thriving community atmosphere say Hebden Bridge shop owners
Hebden Bridge shop owners hope that the thriving community atmosphere will begin to return to the town.
Shops in the Calder Valley are preparing to re-open on June 15 and hoping that shoppers will come flooding back.
All non-essential shops were ordered to close on March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but as part of the easing of restrictions, they are allowed to open up again from June 15.
Aamir Yusuf, who owns the Totally Awesome toy shop in Hebden Bridge, is planning to re-open on June 22.
He said: "We own three shops and for all three we're planning to install a sneeze guard, we're putting a sanitisier station at the front door, we'll have a one way system going around the shop.
"We have a games table in the middle which you can walk around at a safe, two metre distance.
"We'll have floor stickers indicating the direction of flow and we'll have a limited number of customers.
"We're a very interactive shop, we have games out on the table and we play them with customers, but we'll have them all boxed up. You'll still see them, but if customers want us to tell them what the game is about, we'll unbox it, show it to them and re-box it again.
"We're also continuing to offer free local home deliveries.
"People are missing Hebden Bridge, but hopefully shops re-opening will bring back a thriving, community atmosphere again.
"I think there will be more caution, and I think it will take perhaps six months to get to any level of normality again."
Joanne Gas, owner of Dragonfly Boutique in Hebden Bridge, said: "I'm glad to be re-opening, it'll be nice to see people again and talk to them.
"But safety is paramount so it's just making sure we've got all the safety measures in place, that hands are sanitised when people come in the shop, only two people in at one time.
"There'll be stickers on the floor so they know which way to go and to keep their distance.
"I think the majority of people are really good and observe the rules but there are a few that don't, and that worries me slightly.
"The government has said that people can't try things on in clothes shops, which I understand for big retailers.
"But I can manage that here by steaming items and quarantining them for 72 hours, rather than if somebody took something home because there's no control over that item.
"So customers need to understand that things will be different but to bear with us, we're all trying to get through this together.
"Is there going to be enough footfall in Hebden for shops to remploy staff on furlough? And what if they have underlying health issues?
"And what is the council going to put in place to keep the town safe - is there going to be a one-way system on pavements?
"At the minute there's nothing happening and people are wandering around aimlessly, so that needs sorting."
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