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Maidenhead firms react to hospitality reopening date

Hospitality firms in the area have reacted after the Government announced a reopening date for parts of the industry.

After more than 100 days in lockdown, places like pubs, restaurants, museums, cinemas and hairdressers will be able to welcome customers back in England from Saturday, July 4.

From the same date, the two-metre social distancing rule will be replaced with a ‘one-metre plus’ distance, where it is not possible to stay two metres apart.

Updated Government guidance has been published on how hospitality businesses can reopen safely, including reconfiguring seating and minimising self-service.

Customers could be separated from each other by screens in close contact sectors such as hairdressing, and pubs have also been advised to keep music at a low volume to avoid people shouting – which increases the risk of virus transmission.

Businesses in the Maidenhead area have reacted to the news, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Landlord Toby Denney, of Off The Tap pub in High Street, said: “We had a rough idea of what we had to adhere to and most of that was announced.

“We have been working towards having a one-way system, deep cleans, making sure our hygiene standards are much better.

“We will see probably a lot more outdoor space, things like toilets will be one in one out, sanitising stations on each table.

“We are all staying on our toes, making sure we are flexible.”

Stuart Downs, co-owner of the Strawberry Grove cafes in Maidenhead, Marlow and Lane End, said: “It’s been a whirlwind few months, from creating an online store selling groceries and a pop-up farm shop in Marlow, to appearing on LBC and Virgin Radio.

“But we are now seriously looking forward to getting back to what we do best and just opening our cafes again.”

Maidenhead Heritage Centre chairman Richard Poad said that the museum in Park Street was looking forward to welcoming visitors back.

It is hoping to reopen around the third week of July and is just waiting on a final delivery of safety equipment, Richard added.

“We have had three months with no income,” he said.

“We do not know how many people will be coming through our doors to visit but nobody knows that yet.

“We have got an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers and our curator and manager are all raring to go.”

Blockbuster films could also be viewed on the big screen next week after cinemas got the go-ahead to reopen.

A spokesman for Odeon, which has a cinema in King Street, said: “We welcome the Government’s decision to allow cinemas to reopen in England.

“We have been working hard to implement new health and safety measures across all of our sites, and we look forward to sharing these details with our guests, and plans for reopening, very soon.”

Among the places still not allowed to reopen are nightclubs, swimming pools and nail bars.

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