Business owners left frustrated as pubs allowed to reopen sooner

Frustrated business owners have criticised the Government for allowing pubs in England to open while gyms, spas and tattoo parlours remain closed.

Louise Ferris, 33, who co-owns the Blackgate Ink tattoo and piercing studio in Lancing, West Sussex, said it is “ridiculous” pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen from July 4 but her business cannot.

She told the PA news agency: “We have to be trained in infection control, PPE (personal protective equipment), cross-contamination and strict cleaning before we can even get a licence to open a studio so we are already operating ahead of most other industries.

“We already operate on a one-in, one-out basis, we wear sterile gloves, we do thorough clean-downs between clients, and we wear masks.

“We are ready to open… it makes no sense why we are being put in categories like gyms where there is much less way of keeping to the sterile environment.

“I’m worried about how our industry will ever be able to recover from this.”

Mrs Ferris runs the studio with her partner Chris and the couple have four children.

She said the closure of their main source of income has “massively” impacted them.

She added: “Being a smaller business, I haven’t been eligible for the Government grants.

“They offered out Universal Credit to the self-employed but if I had applied for that I would have lost my working tax credit which has been the only thing keeping my children fed.”

The Government extended the self-employment income support scheme in May for a second and final coronavirus grant – enabling freelancers to access grants of up to £6,570 from August.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that businesses such as hair salons, museums and indoor leisure centres or outdoor gyms can reopen from July 4.

However, spas, beauty salons and tattoo and piercing parlours must stay closed, along with indoor fitness and dance studios.

Paul Warner, head of BlitzFitMe in Sudbury, Suffolk, said his personal training facility is “100% safer” than many other types of business that have already opened their doors.

The 45-year-old told PA: “I can literally train someone from 10 metres distance away, because we mainly do one-to-one sessions in the unit.

“We’ve got automatic hand sanitisers in, I’ve had a guy in today who has demisted the whole thing so it’s all clean.

“I believe it’s 100% safer than anything they’re announcing or reopening, and even stuff that they have opened.”

Mr Warner added his clients are often people with anxiety, depression or those “lacking in confidence”, and demand for his business to reopen is high.

“Three-quarters of my clients… want to come into the unit, shut the doors behind them so no-one can see them, do their workout, feel great, have a chat and then go home,” he said.

Alicia Haynes, who runs Restore, a facial clinic in Fareham, Hampshire, said she has been using full PPE since before lockdown.

She said: “Our hygiene is medically-rated.

“I am unsure why the Government think it’s safer to have your hair washed and cut by someone just wearing a visor and yet we can’t follow our own strict hygiene protocols.

“It is also disappointing that none of the industry federations can explain why their ‘guidance’ has resulted in our industry staying closed – if we knew that, I think the mood would have been softened.”