Many of Andover’s businesses are preparing to open their doors again, many for the first time this year.
Steve Godwin from Andover BID says that many town centre businesses just can’t wait to welcome people back again. This comes as it has been confirmed that Andover’s Peacock’s store has been saved from closure.
High street visitors will see business owners preparing behind the scenes to reopen after this lockdown; the recent Prime Minister’s confirmation confirming that we are on target to start reopening from Monday 12th April. This has been warmly welcomed by most and Steve says that BID has “worked consistently throughout the whole lockdown” with its business members and the BID are “genuinely finding the majority, enthusiastically bracing themselves and preparing to reopen just as soon as they can”.
Non-essential retail, hairdressers, nail salons, the library and the museum can open from Monday, also outside hospitality in pubs and restaurants allowed with households or rule of six.
For the rest of hospitality, indoor pubs, cinemas, soft play centres and hotels will have to wait a bit longer (17th May). A legal challenge from business leaders received a small win yesterday as Sacha Lord’s battle in the High Court to allow all pubs and restaurants reopen sooner than the current roadmap ‘will be expedited’.
Mr Lord is Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser, he argued that there is no scientific evidence or justification for hospitality venues to remain closed for longer than indoor retail spaces.
This follows previous reports in the Love Andover Observer that local publicans like Alex Gillies at The Station Inn and Victoria Harber at the Queen Charlotte Inn said that pubs felt ‘victimised’ by the government’s lockdown rules.
In the high street, Steve Godwin says, “We are delighted with the flexibility that businesses have shown and for some this means bringing people back from furlough, others have adapted their premises to be better prepared and most have developed an on line facility with some also able to offer a delivery service.
“The reopening couldn’t come at a better time, with COVID numbers declining to the lowest levels in a year and the advent of spring bringing a sense of optimism with members of the public recognising that through sensible distancing and spending as much time outside as possible, our town centre with its with large pedestrianised areas and a lack of crowds, is a great and safe place to come, meet friends and socialise.
“The new Riverside Park has already started to attract people and is a great community asset for the town.”
Phil Nightingale who owns the Record Box on George Yard told us, “As from Tuesday The Record Box will finally reopen after months of regulations. Let’s hope this will be the last time we are forced to close. After the last manic year let’s hope that we can finally get our business up and running as they are supposed to.”
Following April 12th, Andover welcomes three new independent businesses to the high street area: Andover Aesthetics, Fireaway Pizzas and Fone Wikki will complement the over 100 established independents already in the town.
Later this week, BID is launching its new Digital High Street programme to support businesses and help them compete with the on line giants of Amazon, Ebay and ETSY.
A full report will be in tomorrow’s edition of the free Love Andover newspaper.