Since the Government confirmed yesterday that Monday 19th July will by the day that all COVID-19 legal restrictions in England will be lifted, businesses and residents in Ruddington have been weighing up what ‘risks’ they will be prepared to take.
Whilst Sajid Javid confirmed England will move to ‘Step 4’ – the final stage of ‘unlocking’ its Coronavirus restrictions on this date – he also described July 19th as “the start of a new phase of continued caution” – saying the use of face coverings will still be “expected and recommended … in crowded indoor settings, like public transport.”
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, echoed his Health Secretary’s comments at a Downing Street press conference, urging people to “proceed with caution” – as medical experts continue to be concerned about a rising number of cases. Ruddington is no exception to this where, impacted by an outbreak last month in both village schools, we currently have a positive COVID-19 test rate of 471 per 100,000 people – well above the national average.
Nevertheless, so-called ‘Freedom Day’ is certainly “Good news at last!” for regulars at The Victoria Tavern on Wilford Road – which decided to remain closed until all COVID restrictions were lifted. Licensee Lindsey Flint confirms: “Our doors will open next Monday and hopefully remain open this time. Whilst this has been the news we were all waiting for, the removal of restrictions will not solve all the challenges we face going forward. We await clarification on the ways we can ensure we are ‘COVID safe’, although we will retain all hand sanitisers for our customers to use.” She adds:“The wearing of masks is entirely at our customers discretion. As always, the health and safety of our staff and customers remains our priority.”
Other Ruddington hospitality businesses have already been back in business, although operating at reduced capacity because of the restrictions. Andy Hunt, of The White Horse on Church Street tells us: “Obviously we will keep everyone as safe as possible, and will be running table service where possible, but people will be able to come up to the bar etc. We will not be wearing masks but will follow any guidance given. Staff are welcome to wear a mask if they’d prefer.”
Mark Anderson, who runs both The Ruddington Arms and The Next Episode on Wilford Road with his wife Sarah, reveals: “We are letting our team decide for themselves whether to continue to wear masks/visors. Some can be working 12 hour shifts. As per government guidance it is the individual’s choice now. We will not make our customers wear them but will continue using laminated menus we sanitise after every use and have sanitiser points available.”
Andy Heath of The Frame Breakers on High Street says: “As always we hope to work closely with all the other village traders to ensure the health of our staff and customers and avoid any additional stress caused by too many conflicting requirements. We’re still taking in all the government guidance and advice as well as the equally challenging track & trace policies. We would prefer a test and release system to ensure staff are not directed to isolate for 10 days unnecessarily – especially as, again, hospitality appears to be bearing the brunt of this due to our stricter adherence to the guidelines.” He continues: “Bar service for us under the current set-up is not straightforward, so table service will remain. Internal and external layouts will remain the same with sensible restrictions on party sizes. We will confirm bar service before the 19th. Masks will not be enforced but down to individual choice. We will not enforce track and trace at the pub.”
Philo’s staff have decided they will all continue to wear their masks however are happy for customers to make their own choice whilst inside. Jessica Hutchings says: “We will be keeping the screen at the till area. QR codes will remain for those who wish to check in and we will also have a signing in book available to use. We will continue with a robust cleaning and sanitising routine and have hand sanitiser available for all to use.” She adds: “We will monitor the gift shop and, if it’s a busy day, we may ask you to wait so there aren’t too many customers in the gift shop at one time. We will review all of this in a month’s time.”
Michael Gregson of Morton’s Cafe & Deli reveals a similar policy: “Our staff will continue to wear face masks, hand sanitisers will be on each table for customers to use, and additional cleaning precautions will remain.” Dilawar Hussain at Sweet Moments confirms hand sanitiser and face coverings for staff will remain, but it will be their customers’ own choice whether or not to wear masks.
Alex Preston of The Bottle Top on High Street says: “BT staff will be continuing to wear masks for the time being. Customers are free to exercise their own judgement: We will be keeping up QR codes and signing in books but, again, for those who wish to use them. Cleaning and other precautions will remain in place as much as possible.”
Ruddington Fish Bar owner Demetrios Lawton reveals he, too, will be allowing all customers to make their own personal decision on whether they wear a face covering or not: “We will still be asking customers to respect other people’s personal choice to social distance by maintaining a social distance where possible, though. Also we will be keeping our queuing procedures, screens and sanitisers, etc, for the foreseeable future. There will still be members of staff outside to help guide customers on busier days”.
Ruddington’s close-contact businesses are still being extra cautious: “At Christopher’s Barbers, staff will be wearing masks as per, and we have two sanitiser points within the shop which customers have no problem using when asked politely” says Chris. “As I always seat the customers, I will avoid seating people too close together as much as possible. Like other traders, I’d prefer customers to wear masks, however we won’t challenge anyone on this issue. Seating and barber’s chairs, as well as all equipment, will still be sanitised in between every single customer.” Yvonne Summers from Aveda at Eleven adds: “We will continue to encourage hand sanitising and our vigorous cleaning routine will continue as standard . Our guests have the freedom to wear a mask or not. Staff also have this choice. However, if we have a client who would like there stylist to wear a mask we are happy to oblige.”
Visitors to Ruddington Post Office won’t need to mask-up, either. Owner Nikki Wright tells us: “We are going to continue as now but, if customers come in without masks, we will not challenge them. In the past we have challenged people and had a lot of abuse! To be honest, though, most of our customers are good and keep to social distancing. Just got to see how it goes, I think?”
Paula Kershaw says, at Ruby Rae, she will still wear a mask but not challenge any customer that doesn’t. Sally Pickard at Phoenix Flowers advises her staff will continue to wear masks: “We would prefer if customers did too, but will not enforce. We will continue to ask customers to sanitise before touching merchandise… and monitor numbers inside the shop on busy days.”
Zoe Parton, manager of The Honeycomb Christian Charity Shop, shares Sally’s concerns: “As staff we will still be wearing masks and, since we’re such a small shop, we would prefer customers to continue to wear them. But we won’t challenge anyone that isn’t wearing one. We will be removing the rule of 2 bubbles in at a time and so there will be no restrictions there . We will keep the screen in place at the counter, too, as many of our staff are vulnerable. We would still like customers to use the hand sanitiser.”
At least, on a positive note, Government figures for Rushcliffe indicate an impressive vaccine take-up of 88.0% of adults who’ve now had their first dose and 68.1% who’ve had both. As the majority of older and vulnerable residents, those most likely to become seriously ill with the virus, are now fully protected, there’s confidence that the number of hospitalisations and deaths will continue to remain low even if the anticipated rise in COVID infections continues.
Nevertheless, Lisa Barnaby of Ruddington based BritMask – a brand she launched soon after the pandemic began last year – anticipates wearing a face covering will continue to be a part of life for many people. “Our sister is extremely clinically vulnerable so very nervous about the removal of masks. We will obviously continue to supply our masks to village businesses and customers” says Lisa.
Away from the High Street, residents in our three Ruddington MyCare care homes (pictured below) will also be permitted to welcome as many guests as they wish from this Monday, when limits on visitor numbers are removed.
In summary, from Monday 19th July 2021, the new ‘rules’ in England are:
- No limits on how many people can meet
- 1m-plus rule removed (except in some places such as hospitals, or before passport control when entering the country)
- Face coverings no longer required by law
Events and gatherings
- Nightclubs can open
- Pubs and restaurants no longer table service only
- No limits on guests at weddings and funerals
- No limits on people attending concerts, theatres or sports events
- No restrictions on communal worship
- Guidance recommending against travel to amber countries removed
- Adults fully vaccinated in the UK will no longer have to quarantine for 10 days after returning from amber list countries
- Under-18s won’t need to quarantine
Then, on August 16th 2021, most COVID-19 restrictions in schools – including “bubbles” – will come to an end before the autumn term begins at James Peacock Infants School, St Peter’s Junior School and the surrounding secondary schools attended by older children from our village.
Please note, even after ‘Freedom Day’ it will remain a legal requirement for you to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19.