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Maidenhead businesses battling through second lockdown

Kieran Bell and Tom Gillett

Non-essential Maidenhead businesses have been battling through the second lockdown as the country approaches its third week of tighter national restrictions.

On November 5, places like pubs, restaurants and hairdressers were forced to shut up shop again as COVID-19 cases surged.

Maidenhead Gift Emporium is a shop made up of independent businesses selling handmade and craft goods in St Mark’s Road.

Having opened in November 2019, the firm has had an interrupted first period of trading.

“On that Saturday night [lockdown announcement] we were all quite disheartened. We have all heavily invested in Christmas stock,” assistant manager Karen Rosser said.

“On Sunday morning, we said: ‘let’s put our big girl pants on and see what we can do’.”

Karen has set up a website where people can buy products and have them collected or delivered. She also uses Facebook where she records videos of products and offers virtual tours of the store.

“It has not been easy, and we have had to dig really deep to do it,” Karen added.

High Street cafe bar Flavio's has described a tough couple of weeks in which it has only been able to offer takeaways – something owner Flavio Pantaleao says does not suit his business.

He is registered on delivery app Just Eat and is offering products from 8am – 2pm.

“Everybody is doing takeaways now. I can’t compete with the prices, and of course people are going for the cheaper option,” he said.

“My business – you come in, sit down and have a coffee, it is a very nice atmosphere. That is my business.

“I am losing money. My regulars are pensioners; it is a highlight for them to go out and have a coffee. We will keep our fingers crossed we will still be here on December 3.”

At Off The Tap, in High Street, landlord Toby Denney said late night venues including his are making more money from being in lockdown as opposed to stopping trade at 10pm.

He added: “Once we are out of it [lockdown], we hope that the 10pm curfew can be looked at again. Most of our industry are late night venues and they are going to go under.”

Toby added that Off The Tap will be open for pre-booked collections from today (Thursday), and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays thereafter.

The Belgian Arms, in Holyport, has decided not to offer takeaways and furlough staff for the four weeks.

Owner David Thompson says it is ‘not viable’ to be offering takeaways this time around. He has also been offered a 25 per cent reduction in rent payments.

At a Maidenhead Town Forum meeting on Tuesday this week, town centre manager Steph James praised non-essential businesses in Maidenhead, saying they have been ‘amazing in responding to everything that has been thrown at them’. 

A Royal Borough spokeswoman said: “Applications are now open for the new ‘Local Restrictions Support Grant’ for businesses legally required to close from November 5. The borough is also concluding work on the ‘Discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant’ policy which is set to assist businesses until March 2022.”

For more information on this and other business support, read this

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