'We're excited to be back': Non-essential shops reopen in Bury St Edmunds for first time since coronavirus lockdown
Bury St Edmunds bounced back into action on Monday, as non-essential shops opened their doors for the first time in 12 weeks.
The sun shone as stores welcomed customers back to the town centre after people were ordered to stay at home to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Chris Woolham, owner of Odyssey SurfSnowStyle in St John’s Street, said: “We have been in the shop every day over the last three months dealing with online orders but it is just not the same as being able to talk to our customers.
“It’s very nice to be back and quite exciting and it seems that most people are really pleased to see the town back up and running.”
Auntie Pam’s Sweet Shop is also open for business again and is continuing to offer its home delivery service, which has been in place since March.
Sharon Thompson, who works at the store, said: “It’s lovely to see customers back and some of our regulars have been in to say how great it is to see us open again.”
She added: “We’re very lucky to have had a lot of support through the delivery service, which has kept us going. If we didn’t have that, it would have been impossible so we are really grateful that everyone has been wanting sweets and continued to support us.”
Those visiting the town can expect a different shopping experience, with plastic screens, hand sanitiser stations and queuing stickers having been put in place to ensure that social distancing and good hygiene levels are adhered to.
Shoppers queued for more than an hour outside Sports Direct on Cornhill, which was offering 50 per cent off for all NHS workers, while others were seen queuing up for Hughes in St John’s Street and H&M at the arc.
But Tracey Russell, owner of Quest gift shop in Abbeygate Street, said the changes would be ‘easy to grasp’ for visitors to the town.
“It feels a bit strange but it’s what we’re all used to now,” she said.
“We’re used to seeing queues and one-way systems in supermarkets so it’s not as unknown as it was back in March.”
She added that having other businesses open had helped the town return to its former glory.
“It’s great to see coffee shops open and places offering takeaway food,” she said.
“I think it’s really important for the town to have a mixture of places open and it gives those coming to the town more of a normal day out. It’s also great to see that the weather is on our side.”
Lesley Bancroft, owner of Buy The Light in Whiting Street, said she was 'apprehensive' about reopening.
"But more than anything, I'm so excited to see my customers," she said.
Michele Bailey, manager of Chelmer Fine Art gallery, said that, despite the ‘strange feeling’ in town, it was ‘fantastic’ to be back.
“We weren’t sure what to expect on the first day back but we have been quite busy and we have a lot to follow up on since we locked down,” she said.
“It’s a strange feeling in town with many people having to adapt to a new way of working but I’m really excited to be back.”
Sarah Gooch, from Abbeygate Lighting, said she was 'relieved to open'.
"It's good to see people out and about again," she said. "We've had people knocking all through lockdown to see if we were open so it's nice to be able to welcome people in again and get back to normal."
Among the stores which opened on Monday were The Parsley Pot in Abbeygate Street, Fat Face, Topshop and Clarks at the arc, and Hughes in St John’s Street.
The Government’s recovery strategy, published last month, said restaurants and pubs were expected to reopen ‘no earlier than July 4’ on the condition that safety guidelines could be met.
More by this authorRhoda Morrison
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