08:55PM, Tuesday 06 April 2021
The owner of a Maidenhead barber shop says he is 'excited' to reopen next week after several months of closure.
Naveed Anjum, who runs the AK Barber salon in Queen Street, added that he is much better prepared this time compared with the end of the first lockdown last summer.
Coronavirus restrictions will be eased on Monday to allow places like non-essential shops, barbers and gyms to reopen their doors.
And Naveed cannot wait to get back cutting hair again.
"Now we are prepared, ready - and we know it is going to be busy, very busy actually," he said.
"It has been nearly a year now, there is a lot more awareness. This time will be safer than before. The last lockdown, we weren't fully ready for that, but now we are. Everything's perfect."
He added: "Our customers miss us, and we miss them. It is very exciting, we just can't wait. We hope this is the last one [lockdown]."
Naveed added that he has had to install a plethora of safety measures to ensure people are happy to revisit his business, which has become commonplace for business owners.
And after months of being closed, he expects to have lost 'a few customers' due to some becoming familiar with cutting their own hair at home.
But despite this, Naveed said that he has had 'loads of people call already' regarding AK Barber reopening on Monday.
"It is an exciting moment. I would describe it as we have been in a prison and we have just come out," he said.
"A lot of barbers, they are already on the floor now. Hopefully next week they will start earning good again. It has been a hard time."
Photo from Google Maps
Another industry set to reopen next week is leisure, with gyms welcoming people back following the return of outdoor venues last week.
The new Braywick Leisure Centre has only been open since September 2020 but has had a stop-start beginning to life in Maidenhead, and has not opened at all this year.
Gym manager Michelle Andrews and other members of staff at the Braywick Road centre have been recalled from furlough to get ready for the big day.
Speaking on behalf of Leisure Focus, which runs the Braywick Leisure Centre, Jonny Walker said the team are looking forward to welcoming people back.
Among some changes include the area where the cafe is being turned into an outdoor training site for high-paced classes. Lower-paced classes, such as yoga and pilates, are being continued online due to the unpredictable weather.
"It is great for members' mental health, to be able to train in the gym and exercise again," the events and marketing manager said. "And our staff are just as excited to be back in action.
"Now we are opening for the third time, it is still pretty much a new building. Hopefully the members will be impressed.
"A lot of staff came back off furlough this week to prepare. Everything has got to be re-evaluated."
Jonny added that the centre 'takes pride' in ensuring people's safety, and reserved a thought for other members of the industry who have not been able to make it through the lockdowns.
"We are in a fortunate position to be able to open our doors when we know other leisure centres have had to close or are really struggling at the moment," he said.
There will be displays at Windsor Racecourse and Legoland, local fireworks in Burnham and Twyford and smaller displays at schools in the Royal Borough.