“Lockdown hasn’t dulled our sparkle": Businesses in Chesterfield welcome the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions on July 19
Businesses across Chesterfield have welcomed the Government’s decision to lift the majority of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions later this month.
It comes after the Prime Minister's announcement that the majority of coronavirus rules will be eased on July 19 – meaning all businesses can now reopen, with capacity limits scrapped along with the home working guidance.
The lifting of the remaining lockdown restrictions is expected to further boost the local economy, after the recent East Midlands Chamber Quarterly Economic Survey for Q2 2021, State of the Economy Index showed its highest score since Q3 2018.
This has igniting hope for a steady recovery post-pandemic with growth expectations for the region.
Councillor Kate Sarvent and Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for town centre and visitor economy added: “Like town centres up and down the country, it’s been an incredibly difficult time for our businesses – as well as the wider community.
"But Chesterfield is a resilient place and we have some truly inspiring independent businesses.
"By continuing to work really closely together, and with our partners like East Midlands Chamber and Destination Chesterfield we’re confident in our town’s ability to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.”
Manager of Destination Chesterfield, a marketing campaign funded by the council and support from local businesses, Dom Stevens commented: “It’s been a long hard road for many Chesterfield Champions, but light is finally at the end of the tunnel.
"What we have seen during this time is what a tightly knit, resilient and supportive business community there is in Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire and I am very much looking forward to seeing people within it face-to-face at our events going forward.”
Destination Chesterfield is hosting its first in-person event in 16 months on Wednesday, July 7, judging the Food Producer of the Year award at Casa Hotel for the 2021 Love Chesterfield Awards.
Venues, including hotels, theatres and training providers, have particularly welcomed the lifting of restrictions which will enable them to return to full capacity 16 months after the pandemic started.
John Croot, chief executive at Chesterfield FC is looking forward to the team’s ground once again being full.
He said: “People have been waiting for this news for so long.
“We are looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the Technique Stadium.
"We have a number of events in our hospitality lounges over the next few months and it will be great to see the rooms full again.”
Assistant manager at Matlock Farm Park Lotty Hawkins commented: “We‘re looking forward to seeing the children’s delight when they first go the play centre – it’s going to be lovely having the building filled with children’s voices again.”
Scott Knowles, chief executive of East Midlands Chamber added: “While the hospitality industry is enjoying a great summer bounce back, it has still been severely held back by capacity limits that have also affected the leisure and events industries.
“So there will now be a lot of excitement in the countdown to 19 July, when we sincerely hope the Government will indeed go ahead with stage four of its roadmap to reopening our economy and lift almost all the remaining restrictions.”
Fiaz Sadiq, managing director for business coaching franchise ActionCOACH Chesterfield said: “It's great to hear from the Prime Minister that the easing of restrictions will be lifted from Monday 19 July, it's a very positive and welcomed decision that we feel everyone was hoping for!
"Particularly, small independent businesses, as we've seen first-hand the devastating effects that this pandemic has caused, and the real struggle for so many!”
Rose Cottage Doggy Day Care is among the raft of businesses that will be able to welcome customers back fully when measures ease.
Owner Dawn Brown explained: “The lifting of the restrictions will enable me now to hold an open day to showcase our services to new and old clients.
"We look after people’s fur babies and not being able to show them around has limited the number of new clients sending their dogs to us.
"Luckily our reputation has been enough for most clients to send their pooch without looking around but it will be great when we can organise viewings again.”
Suppliers and service providers to the hospitality sector are equally excited for the majority of rules be scrapped and the industry to bounce-back.
John Smith, director at Accountancy Recruitment Group, said: “Our market has been very busy throughout the pandemic but the changes from the 19 July should, in particular, see a positive bounce-back for our clients across hospitality and leisure sectors.”
Chief executive of bridge finance company Bridge Help Chris Sellars, agreed and added: “I believe we will see increased investment in commercial property, particularly in the hospitality sector, across the country and locally which is great news for the town.”
While the lifting of restrictions has generally been welcomed, a number of businesses, particularly those in the healthcare, beauty and retail sectors in Chesterfield town centre, have still advised some caution.
Martin Wallis-Keyworth, owner of Less than Zero Barbers commented: “We think it’s now appropriate for people to get back to their day to day lives without compulsory restrictions or mask wearing.
"It will be good practise though, when people are unwell, to wear a mask wherever possible to limit any risk to themselves and others.”
Owner of The Goldsmith Clinic Theresa Goldsmith, who is also a registered nurse, said: “Throughout Covid restrictions we have all practiced very safely and will maintain the high level of cleanliness to help prevent any risk of virus transmission - Covid or otherwise.
"I hope that people will continue to use their judgement and if they have any sign of any infection, they take the necessary precautions.”
“I hope that people will realise they have responsibility towards others as well as themselves”, Stuart Chambers, part of the management team at Pavements Shopping Centre, added.
"I will continue with the mask and hand sanitising because it makes sense.”
Many organisations that adopting homeworking during the pandemic are now excited to return to the workplace to be able to meet and discuss ideas with staff and customers in person.
Scott Knowles said: “Dropping homeworking guidance for office-based businesses is another important step in our return to normality.
"While we expect the future of work to be a hybrid between the office and home where this is possible for some, the majority of businesses we represent have told us the office will remain a key part of their organisations – especially for younger employees who benefit from working alongside more senior colleagues and have perhaps felt more socially isolated during the pandemic.”
Director of mortgage broker Mortgage 1st Lisa Stones commented: “The one thing we are looking forward to the most is being able to get together as a team.
"We have advisers all over the county and have missed spending time together both for business and pleasure.
"We have a party planned later this month for the whole team so we can celebrate and raise a glass to everyone’s hard work and dedication over the last year and a half.”
Businesses remain optimistic for what the future holds for them in Chesterfield, despite some remaining concerns about Covid.
Fiaz Sadiq added: “Now that restrictions are lifting, owners can really start to work on the plans they had for the future of their business, which will in turn will help with the regrowth of this thriving and beautiful little market town, and we can't wait to see how it bounces back.”
Owner of Adorn Jewellers Laura Jo Owen said: “We’re looking forward to weddings going ahead.
"Many of our wedding ring customers have had to postpone their celebrations and are excited to celebrate with friends and family later this year.
“Lockdown hasn’t dulled our sparkle and now we’re looking forward to shining brightly with our lovely family, friends and customers in Chesterfield.”
Councillor Sarvent continued: “The borough as a whole is benefitting from a £1bn growth programme which is bringing forward new jobs and opportunities for local people.
"Likewise, our town centre is not standing still.
"We’re investing in significant town centre developments and improvements including the new Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre, work on Elder Way and plans to revitalise the market.
“Enquiries from businesses wanting to start, grow or relocate in Chesterfield are on the rise, and early indications show that the number of people shopping in Chesterfield town centre is heading in the right direction, moving back towards pre-Covid levels.”
Chesterfield Borough Council said they have paid over £48.5 million worth of Government grants since the start of the pandemic offering a ‘lifeline’ to businesses.
The local authority recently funded the new Digital High Street project which aims to help businesses branch out online and incorporate new modern payment and delivery systems.
While the Love Chesterfield campaign is encouraging people to continue to shop local as the nation edges it way completely out of lockdown.
There are more than 180 Chesterfield Champions – a network of businesses, charities, schools and training providers who pledge their support to Destination Chesterfield in driving the development of the local economy and area forward.