Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Businesses urge shoppers to keep using face masks

Businesses urge shoppers to keep using face masks

SHOP owners in Benson, Watlington and Ewelme are urging customers to keep wearing masks indoors despite all coronavirus restrictions being lifted on Monday.

Many will continue to enforce social distancing within their premises as well as limiting the number of people inside to combat the spread of the virus but admit they will give customers the choice on whether to wear a face covering.

Elisa Hill, who runs Derry’s Den in High Street in Benson, said covid restrictions will remain in place inside her card and gift shop.

Only three people will be allowed in the shop at the same time and they are keeping the protective screen over the counter while also providing hand sanitiser.

Ms Hill, who took over the shop in 2017, said: “I personally will be wearing a mask wherever I go and would like for people to wear one.

“It is a strange one, because businesses still need to make money and want to be welcoming and people might decide not to come in since mask wearing is not mandatory anymore but I’m not going to push it.

“We are only allowing a certain number of people in the shop anyway and our staff will be wearing masks at all times. We are still going to protect ourselves and I think people will still be cautious.”

At the Granary Deli in Watlington, staff are also continuing to wear masks and only four people are allowed in the shop at the same time to maintain social distancing.

Robin Holmes Smith, who runs the shop, said: “We are not specifically asking customers to wear a mask but most of them have been wearing one and we will continue to wear them.

“We are not giving any specific guidance but the notice on our door still says to respect social distancing and we have screens and hand sanitiser, so hopefully it will keep everyone safe.”

Pam McKnight, who runs the Sprocket Science bicycle shop also in High Street with her husband Paul, said she is encouraging customers to wear a mask in the shop and that up to two people are allowed in at the same time.

She said: “Our shop is quite small and if you add the bikes we have in for repairs, the space is quite limited so maintaining social distancing is already difficult.

“We encourage customers to talk to us from the doorway without entering the shop but if they are coming in, it would be good for them to wear one, but I don’t think it will be an issue.”

Nothing has changed at Ewelme Village Store since the restrictions were lifted, as protective screens are still in place and the staff are still wearing masks at all times.

A maximum of two people are allowed to shop at a time and one group of up to four people at the tea room inside the building. The staff are also taking weekly lateral flow tests.

Pam Oldham, one of the volunteers at the store, said: “We don’t feel enough has changed yet for us to remove masks completely inside the shop.

“We are a small shop with poor ventilation, so we are politely asking that our customers continue to wear a face covering when inside the shop. We haven’t changed any of our protective measures and the way we work.

“Our absolute priority is the safety of everyone at the shop, from staff and volunteers to customers which is why we've decided to keep these measures in place — we felt everyone would feel safer this way and people are coming in with their masks on, they really got used to it and most of them said they agree not enough has changed yet.”

Loraine Daniels, who runs lighting shop Bella Luce in High Street in Watlington, said that 90 per cent of her customers are still wearing masks.

She said: “In my shop, I don’t mind if people wear it or not, it’s really up to the customer. The shop gets really warm so it’s difficult to wear one all the time but I’m happy to wear it if customers ask us to.  From what I’ve seen so far, the majority of customers are still wearing one, they are just carrying on with it.”

Meanwhile, Babylon Plants, which is based at the Chestnut Farm in Cuxham, is still not allowing customers inside its offices to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

Richard Van Den Broek, the sales manager at the plant nursery, said: “It has not made any difference to us as we are not yet allowing people in. Customers can come and look at the plants but there is no need for them to come in. We don’t think it’s worth the risk and we can operate well enough this way. Some people do still wear masks though, even if the business is mainly outside.”

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