As some businesses in Lincoln begin to open their doors once more, others have been left waiting, confused by unclear regulations.

Reopening any business during this time introduces complications, but many small business owners are struggling to get by, alongside regulations that seem to contradict themselves. Photo: pxhere.com

On 23 June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that more businesses could reopen from 4 July.

The list of places free to welcome customers back included the hospitality industry, such as pubs and hotels; some of the beauty industry, namely hair salons and barbers; and parts of the entertainment sector, such as museums, theatres, cinemas and wildlife attractions.

But many businesses, including tattoo parlours, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning studios and gyms, were told to remain closed until later in the month.

Although nail bars and tanning studios are able to reopen from Monday 13 July, beauty salons offering face treatments are left unsure as to when they are able to return. 

Acacia Stainton, a 20-year-old lash technician and owner of Beauty by Acacia on Monks Road, has been out of work for 13 weeks.

“I can’t wait to get back to work, as I love what I do, but unfortunately, I haven’t been given much clarity of when I will be able to,” Ms Stainton said. Photo: Acacia Stainton.

She says it’s been hard to cope financially.

“I am not sure how a pub is more sanitary and safe than a beauty salon, whereby there is a strict one-in, one-out policy. Face masks will be worn, I will be wearing safety glasses, gloves and an apron, as well as wiping down surfaces in between clients,” Ms Stainton said.

“Throughout lockdown, I’ve completed courses educating myself on proper sanitisation and sterilisation, as well as mental health awareness courses and spotting the signs of domestic abuse as a beauty therapist, as we are able to build a relationship with our clients and offer help.”

Ms Stainton says she feels fully prepared to reopen with the newly-acquired training.

Others have had to look for jobs elsewhere in order to stay afloat during the lockdown.

Tom Sharpe, a self-employed personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in Lincoln, had been forced to take on other forms of employment to avoid struggling financially. 

After the hospitality industry reopened, Boris Johnson announced that gyms would follow suit as soon as possible. Photo: Tom Sharpe via Instagram.

At the time of the interview, Mr Sharpe said: “I have a new full-time temporary job to cover my bills. I have a handful of clients online still but they’re feeling depressed, anxious and uncertain.”

After the hospitality industry reopened, Boris Johnson announced that gyms would follow suit as soon as possible.

25 June was then pinned as the date they would be able to start back again, which was good news for Mr Sharpe, who had lost his temporary job.

For other businesses, being left in the dark while others reopened was frustrating and confusing.

Lee Coult owns Intenz Art Lincoln, a tattoo studio. He can now open his doors again on Monday 13 July, but doesn’t understand why he was forced to remain closed despite other businesses being welcomed back.

“The hygiene rules that the government have put into place are things that tattooists do every day in the job role already.” 

“I still have bills to pay and a family to support. This has kept me strong mentally but I think everyone has been affected financially to some extent.”

Tattooists are prepared to put in new precautions to keep their customers safe as they reopen on Monday.

Mr Coult said: “I am going to use a handheld thermometer to take temperatures, hand sanitiser, face masks for me and the customers and a one-in, one-out system”. 

Although some businesses aren’t able to return just yet, certain small chains have been open for some time now, and are adapting to a new way of working. 

Doughnotts, a doughnut shop in Lincoln, opened around seven weeks ago from a new HQ, said Daniel Byrne, who works at the shop.

“Our teams are wearing face masks, we’ve got a screen up at the till and we’re asking our customers to follow the two-metre rule,” said Daniel Byrne. Photo: Daniel Byrne.

Throughout lockdown, Doughnotts spent the time working on new flavours, a new wholesale model and an online shop to offer a click-and-collect service.

“With the stores closed, it gave us the opportunity to refine what we do and how we do it, while also offering Deliveroo from our Nottingham HQ and then a click-and-collect option to enable us to bring staff back,” said Mr Byrne.   

He added that the store is doing what they can to maintain a safe environment.

“The teams go in on a Tuesday to do a deep clean. At the moment, our stores are operating a one-in, one-out policy, with all customers being asked to sanitise their hands as they enter. Our teams are wearing face masks, we’ve got a screen up at the till and we’re asking our customers to follow the two-metre rule.”

However, though businesses are trying to keep their customers safe, some members of the public are becoming relaxed and even frustrated with the rules. 

Woodside Wildlife Park in Lincoln was able to open from 4 July, and employs a two-metre policy, with signs and hand sanitiser found around the site.

Despite this, members of the public crowded around one another in excitement as the animals were fed, disregarding social distancing.

Woodside Wildlife Park in Lincoln. Photo: Shelby Dobson.

Reopening any business during this time introduces complications, but many small business owners are struggling to get by, alongside regulations that seem to contradict themselves.

Ms Stainton, the lash technician, voiced her confusion over conflicting guidelines, such as eyebrow treatments being banned but beard services being accepted.

“It doesn’t make sense to me how they are different. Brows can be done from the side of the face and masks can be worn by the client, and the therapist has a visor too.”

For now, beauty salons such as hers are left struggling financially through the pandemic and seeking clarification as to when they may be able to open their doors to the public once again. 

“I can’t wait to get back to work, as I love what I do, but unfortunately, I haven’t been given much clarity of when I will be able to,” Ms Stainton said.

By Shelby Dobson

News Editor at The Linc.