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Tier 4 a 'big blow' for firms after borough placed in toughest restrictions

Tier 4 COVID-19 restrictions have been described as a ‘big blow’ for businesses in the borough as firms face another period of closure.

Following the announcement of a further tightening of restrictions, which has seen non-essential shops, hairdressers and leisure facilities close, business owners have described how the news broke unexpectedly for them.

Having been plunged into tier 3 following the Government’s review of the system on Thursday last week, the industry was rocked by news that the whole of Berkshire would be in the new tier 4 restrictions from Sunday.

This will be reviewed on December 30, the Government says, and was brought in to curb a new strain of the virus which is believed to be more infectious.

Deborah Jones, co-director at Craft Coop, a craft shop in the Nicholsons Centre, said: “It is obviously a big blow, especially so close to Christmas. And for craftspeople, because every single one of those sales they are missing is really important.

“We regret not having the sales at Christmas, but we do understand it.

“I am generally an optimistic person and I think that when things are back to normal, it really will be the time for small independents to have their day. There is a lot of love for local, and I think the independent shops are able to move more quickly with the times.”

Deborah added that a Government business rates holiday has helped keep her business ‘afloat’ and thanked people who visited the shop when it was open for their support.

Elsewhere, gym owner Greg Mikolap, who owns Icon Gym in Grenfell Road, has called for gyms to be classified as essential, describing the tier 4 news as a ‘big challenge’.

“Every gym owner I know put so much effort in making sure no one was sharing the equipment, everything is clean, we have social distancing measures in place. I absolutely believe that gyms should be essential,” he said.

“The whole point is to be a constant for our members. We will try to adapt as much as we can.”

Samantha Cannons, owner of Glam Extend, is a home-based hairdresser who has had to put her tools down once more.

“Obviously for us as hair salons it is absolutely devastating to do this just before the busiest time of our year,” she said.

“Everybody was expecting it [lockdown] in January. It is just a little bit deflating.”

Florist Nash and Sons, in Bridge Avenue, has been met with a different kind of problem to other firms.

Partner Vernon Nash says orders online have been up 50 per cent on this time last year, but he is faced with worries that stock may not arrive from the Netherlands amid a shutting of borders to Europe.

Speaking on Monday, he said: “Now the borders are shut we are not getting anything coming across. We have got stock up until tomorrow but do not know how it goes from then.”

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