Cancelled bookings and staff lay-offs at well-known Chesterfield town centre business as tier two restrictions bite

A well-known Chesterfield business says it has been forced to lay off staff and reduce workers’ hours less than one week into tier two coronavirus restrictions.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 4:45 pm

Stephenson’s Tea And Coffee House owner Claire Wood says every booking until Christmas for the business’ normally popular luxury B&B has been cancelled since Chesterfield moved into the higher tier.

Although she has introduced a range of new initiatives to allow the coffee house to diversify, Claire admits to feeling ‘in limbo’ about what support will be available from the Government.

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Claire Wood, owner of Stephenson's, says tier two restrictions in Chesterfield have seen bookings disappear.

"I am a very optimistic person and when we first found out about the change to tier two I remained hopeful,” Claire said.

"However, I’m now at the realistic stage and it’s clear this is going to be a struggle.

"The real situation is bookings are massively reduced already. Every single B&B booking before Christmas has now been cancelled.

“I’ve had to lay-off one member of staff and have reduced the hours for all the others.”

Claire says she is also having to turn customers away for not following the guidelines on households mixing.

The effect of just a few days in a higher tier of restrictions prompted Claire to issue a Facebook post this week urging people to support independent businesses in Chesterfield or face losing them ‘very soon’.

The post explained that despite being rated number one in the town on Tripadvisor and being awarded the ‘We’re Good To Go’ Covid-19 industry standard, ‘our usually packed tea and coffee house has been almost empty today’.

"The response to the post has been amazingly positive and we have seen an increase in bookings since,” Claire said.

"So that is more positive, but we still feel in limbo about what, if any, support we will get from the Government. There is no information and no advice being offered.”

Businesses in tier two areas across the country, particularly in the hospitality sector, have complained they would be better off if they were under tier three restrictions.

Today, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced increased support for jobs and workers after growing clamour from businesses in tier two areas.

Stephenson’s has introduced a ‘work at home but away’ initiative which offers free wifi with lunch or breakfast. Call 01246 205111 to make a booking.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.