‘It won’t make any difference’ – Leicester businesses react to lockdown extension

The Government’s extension of Leicester’s lockdown has been criticised by businesses – saying the measures “won’t make a difference”.

The Health Secretary said the national lockdown easing would not be happening in the city – meaning pubs, hairdressers and restaurants would not be able to open alongside other areas of the UK.

Non-essential shops in Leicester must close from Tuesday and schools are also set to close to most pupils from Thursday.

Robin Dignall, the owner of Hair@1RD hairdressers in the city centre, told the PA news agency from a business point of view, he “needs to get the customers back in”.

He said: “We were all geared up ready to open on July 4 but, from reading the Government guidelines, they clearly haven’t consulted anybody in our profession.

Coronavirus – Mon Jun 29, 2020
Maria Demetriou-Clamp and Robin Dignall disinfect chairs at their hair salon ‘Hair @ 1RD’ in Leicester (Joe Giddens/PA)

“The furthest we can work away from someone is 0.5 metres and they are telling us our clients don’t have to wear masks and we don’t have to wear masks – just a visor.

“Obviously money’s going out but there’s nothing coming in at the moment so from a business point of view yes, we do need to get the customers back in.

“But I’m not willing to put my health or anybody else’s health and safety at risk.”

Addressing how the lockdown extension would affect his business, Mr Dignall said: “We’ve got around 300 clients and we didn’t start booking in until we had a vague date of when we can open.

“Now we’ve started booking in, if we’re going to close for another two weeks then we’re going to have to push everybody back two more weeks.

“So some may have to wait four, five, six weeks, maybe more before we can fit them in.”

Mr Dignall’s colleague, Maria Demetriou-Clamp, also criticised the Government’s strategy.

She told PA: “I don’t think the extended lockdown period is going to make any difference because if we delay it by two weeks, the message is in the title then – we’re obviously just delaying it.

“What we need is concise and precise direction for people to have to wear a mask when you’re that close to somebody.

“I think we’re in more danger by delaying two weeks and still keeping the fact that we don’t have clients wearing masks.

“We can open this Saturday if they tell everybody they have to wear a mask – there would be more safety in that than just waiting two weeks and just doing the same thing all over again.”

Rakesh Parmar, who owns Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe in the city centre, said the further restrictions will affect him “financially very, very badly”.

Coronavirus – Mon Jun 29, 2020
Rakesh Parmer weighs out sweets at Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe in Leicester (Joe Giddens/PA)

He said: “The impact of coronavirus hit us on March 23, we closed for 10 weeks, and then opened again on June 15 – it’s been one long slog.

“At the end of the day, it’s got to be done for everyone’s safety. It’s got to be done.”

Mr Parmar said he “completely” understood why a further lockdown would be needed.

Asked how his customers were feeling, he said: “Very, very scared because it’s closer to home than we realised.

“Then it’s the uncertainty of who the carrier is.”

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