Joy as businesses finally reopen doors to customers after three-month lockdown

It's been a tough time for businesses who have been forced to close their doors through three national lockdowns as a result of Covid-19.

Grant Harper from Kingswinford was the first shopper to snap-up a bargain from Primark at Merry Hill. Picture by Shaun Fellows / Shine Pix Ltd
Grant Harper from Kingswinford was the first shopper to snap-up a bargain from Primark at Merry Hill. Picture by Shaun Fellows / Shine Pix Ltd

But there is a hope this time, as their doors finally reopened, that they will remain open – to the delight of shoppers, staff and employers.

The relaxation of the rules allowed pubs, cafes and restaurants to serve people outdoors whilst hairdressers and nail salons were able to open.

They opened alongside gyms, outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks, libraries, community centres and self-contained accommodation.

Nina Williams, who runs a unisex hairdressers of the same name in Lower Gornal in Dudley, said the feedback had been positive – and it was good to reopen again.

Nina Williams (second right) celebrates with staff Leanne Bailey, Georgia Allen and Olivia Brittle

She said: "It's been really amazing – the old and new customers who have come in have been great and there's been lots of positive comments.

"We've had a lot of good feedback. We redecorated in lockdown so there's been lots of positive comments about that too."

The 46-year-old, from Lower Gornal, said they expected the salon to be busy – and was hopeful there would be no further lockdowns.

She added: "We expected it really [for the salon to be busy] based on what happened after the last couple of lockdowns – fingers crossed there's no more because it's been hard working to get it open and going ahead. We tried to do as many people as we could before the last lockdown in December – we worked until midnight on that day."

First customer of the day Susan Gilligan with owner Nina Williams

Meanwhile a long queue of people eager for a haircut formed outside the Little Nicks barbers, on Salters Road in Walsall Wood, as the restrictions were eased.

Jackie Clay, centre manager at New Square Shopping Centre in West Bromwich, said: "It’s been wonderful to see so many tenants return to New Square today.

"So far the footfall has been steady and we haven’t had any queues outside stores, but there’s been a buzz throughout the centre and people have been sat in the seating area outside Costa.

"Primark has seen the highest footfall so far and customers and tenants alike are loving the full New Square shopping experience!"

Shopping centres such as New Square, Cornbow and Merry Hill are open again

Cornbow Shopping Centre, in Halesowen, was another shopping centre which saw an influx of shoppers as non-essential retail was able to open back up again.

Centre manager Eve O'Connor said: "We never closed to be honest, having a main supermarket and essential retailers, so we've had a steady footfall from people.

"The workers are glad to be back serving the customers and all the measures are in place and we're welcoming new businesses as well, so the future is bright.

"We've noticed a lot of people coming in, there's been an influx of people, and it's quite nice that people are getting things they haven't been able to – like kids have been able to try shoes on, so everyone is quite happy to be back."

Families were enjoying their last week of the Easter holidays – by heading to outdoor attractions which were allowed to reopen from Monday, including Dudley Zoo and Castle, West Midland Safari Park and Alton Towers.

Derek Grove, the director of Dudley Zoo and Castle, said it had been a long 12 months of lockdown closures, tier-based closures and fundraising – but he said he was delighted to finally be opening the gates again.

He added that they were hoping this will be the final lockdown – with the Castle Hill-based attraction looking ahead to the future.

Dudley Zoo and Castle director Derek Grove celebrates reopening with Jambi the zoo mascot

Mr Grove said: "It’s been another long period of closure, but it was wonderful to open the turnstiles at 10am and welcome waiting visitors on site.

"The sun was shining and there was lots of excited chatter as families began making their way around the one-way system to visit the animals, who will have definitely missed seeing people throughout the last 14 weeks.

"We are hoping this will be the final lockdown as a seven-month closure in the last 12 months has been extremely difficult for the charity, but by partaking in the furlough scheme and delaying some of our major developments on site, we have managed to come out on the other side.

"With lots of newborn animals and new species on site as well as building work starting on our outdoor Bornean orangutan enclosure, we are looking ahead to the future."

While a spokesman for West Midland Safari Park, in Bewdley, said: “It’s been a magnificent reopening day here at West Midland Safari Park. Welcoming guests back through our doors has been a sight we have waited a long time to see, and it’s been a wonderful feeling seeing people returning to us.

“Our staff have been working incredibly hard to prepare all areas of the park, so that guests can have a safe and enjoyable trip; and we have been thrilled by the warm reception we have received.

“After what has been a very emotional and exciting first day open; we are feeling very positive for a brighter future ahead.”

Customers queue for their long awaited trim at Little Nick's Barbers, Salters Road, Walsall Wood

And a spokesman for Alton Towers Resort added: "We are thrilled to open our gates and see guests back and enjoying the theme park and selected accommodation.

"Our teams have worked incredibly hard to prepare the resort so that we can do what we do best, provide great, exciting, fun filled, memorable days out and short breaks.

"The safety and wellbeing of our guests is of paramount importance and enhanced hygiene and safety measures are in place to help guests have a fun-filled escape."

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