‘It’s tough’ - life on the high street after Covid restrictions lift

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Traders on a West Country high street say they are glad to be back after non-essential retail was permitted to reopen.

Shops, gyms and pubs with outdoor seating reopened to customers on April 12 as part of the first lifting of restrictions in Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Two weeks have passed since then and for many, it has been a challenging fortnight adjusting to life after lockdown.

In Staple Hill, an area which borders Bristol and South Gloucestershire, business owners on the high street say shoppers are slowly coming back.

‘Like going into an operating theatre’

Tina Lewis, who runs The Beauty Spot, said: “It’s been stressful - very stressful.

Tina Lewis said working in the beauty industry is comparable to working in the medical industry, with all of the PPE that is now required.

“Just the unknowing - the open, the shut, everything we had to put in place as an industry.

“We are similar to the medical industry - we wear gloves, we wear goggles to protect ourselves. Everything is washed down after every client, everything is changed, the towels are washing.

“Literally, it’s like going into an operating theatre half the time.”

For shoppers, though, it has been a different experience.

"It's just nice to be able to come to the shops and know that there's some life there, you don't feel so closed off,” one said.

In a bid to entice customers back, some of the shop fronts in Staple Hill have been decorated by local artists.

Jason’s home goods store is one of the shops to have had a makeover.

Owner Jason Marshall explained: "It has been tough, even before the lockdown you know.

Artwork on display in some of the shop fronts in Staple Hill.

"I think it's just been a case of over the past 12 months of getting through it as best we can.

"With the help of some artists, local artists from Bristol, they came up and a lot of the shops have had all the artwork done just really to say welcome back."

And back the shoppers have come - a welcome sign that Staple Hill high street really is on the road to recovery.

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