South Shields businesses remain cautious on 'Freedom Day'
South Shields businesses are continuing to keep Covid safety measures in place after Freedom Day – but admit that life has to move forward.
Most legal restrictions to control coronavirus came to an end in England on July 19, but while cases are high and rising in South Tyneside many business owners are choosing a cautious approach.
Knit ‘N’ Purl, in the Market Place in South Shields is keeping its one-way system, protective plastic screening remains in place at the till and customers are being encouraged to still wear masks.
Owner Jacqueline Brown said: “I think we have to have a cut-off date and have to start moving forward and learning to live with this, but for our customers, for their benefit, I think they feel safer if we still have restrictions in place.
"I think the majority of people still want to wear the masks and it just gives you that extra security.
"We do encourage people to wear a face mask, obviously it is entirely up to them, and also to keep that bit of space between people.
“It has been really positive, everybody that has come in has walked in with a mask, nobody has had any negative comments about it.”
Sharon Pittuck, owner of The Barber Shop in Mile End Road in the town, is also encouraging her clients to wear a mask – and is continuing to wear full PPE when working.
She says the majority of her clients are older and is keeping measures in place to protect them as well as herself as case rates remain high.
"I think the majority of people realise how high the rates are here, the priority is safety first,” she said,
“Everything is as it was – sanitised, sterilised and clients have to sign in
"Everyone has been amazing about it.”
Men’s fashion store Northern Threads in Ocean Road is leaving it up to customers to make their own decision on wearing a mask, and has removed its one-way system signage in place, although plastic screens remain in place at the till.
Phil Goodfellow, who owns the shop with Nigel Binnie, said it was mainly the younger customers who were choosing not to wear a mask.
He said: “Some people are wearing masks, some people are not.
“In this climate we have to get back to some sort of normality or the high street will be ruined.
“We have just got to keep driving on and staying positive.
"We have taken off the [Covid] signs straight away to get people feeling some normality.
"But we are leaving the screens [on the tills] for the time being as one of the staff asked us to keep them and we have to respect that.
"We will just have to see how things progress over the next month.”
Allan and Lorraine Harrison, who own Harrisons Jewellers on Station Approach, are continuing to limit the number of customers in their shop at one time.
Lorraine said: “Everyone we have had come into the shop today has had their mask on and I think people will still wear them.
"I will still be wearing mine going to the shops.
"But I do think it has gone on long enough and we are going to have to try and live it.”