Today (Monday 19th July 2021) is a real milestone in the coronavirus pandemic, with more than a year of lockdown restrictions coming to an end in England. No longer will masks and social distancing be a legal requirement in public places after what is being dubbed ‘Freedom Day‘.
For many Britons, this will be a welcome sign of light at the end of the tunnel. However, for those who work in public-facing sectors such as jewellery and gift retail, this might also be a worrying period while cases of the virus are continuing to rise.
Will it be possible to stay safe without distance from others? Are retailers to expect a sudden influx of customers? What about those who haven’t yet been double-jabbed?
With this in mind, the Federation of Small Businesses has issued a plea to the general public to respect the right of companies to keep protective measures such as mask-wearing in place if they see fit.
It has stressed that it is within their rights to use their judgement and to establish “house rules” on precautions that may be different to government-issued guidelines.
This comes after some of the bigger chainstores – including Waterstones, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Primark – announced they will be ‘encouraging’ customers to keep wearing masks and staying a metre from other shoppers where possible.
It looks like many smaller firms are following suit too, with nearly 30 per cent telling Simply Business they will retain social distancing and limit capacity even after Freedom Day, despite 67 per cent feeling confident about trading levels.
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said it’s crucial for firms of all sizes to feel as though they can put rules in place that work for them.
“We hope that consumers will understand and respect this as they get behind supporting small firms, which are working hard to get back up and running so that they can remain at the heart of community life,” he added.
This is a topic close to our hearts here at Majique, as we know many of our partners and buyers come from small jewellery and gift shops that will be feeling the impact of Freedom Day. After all, trying on accessories and examining lots of small items may not be conducive to keeping shoppers apart.
As such, we’d love to know your thoughts on the withdrawal of restrictions. Will you be keeping masks and screens in place for the foreseeable future, or are you happy to dispense with them? Have you experienced problems with shoppers unwilling to adhere to your house rules?
Feel free to start a conversation with us here or on social media – and, as ever, do stay safe during these tricky times.