Nottingham unlocks as shops open again and welcome people back through their doors

After several months of shops being forced closed due to coronavirus, they are finally allowed to reopen, along with outdoors hospitality.

Walking around in the streets again was amazing. The amount of people out was astonishing, they all must have shared the similar feeling of wanting to get out again, back to a sense of normality. Seeing shops open up and customers be happy to return was great. Seeing people enjoy themselves again, in general, was a happy sight, especially after being cooped up inside.

People were queuing early in the morning, long before shops reopened. Some, as early as 7 am. Cafes and pubs were full as well, with lots of people enjoying the sun despite a light chill. The weather certainly helped; people could enjoy a drink from their favourite outlet without being hassled by rain.

Shopkeepers were excited to be back too. Becca Sewell, the manager of Forbidden Planet, explained how she and her staff were looking forward to being back and were especially looking forward to getting their new stock in because their staff are very keen on it.

Their customer base was very excited as well. There were long queues outside Forbidden Planet as people longed to get the pop culture material they had missed out on for months.

Carl Davis, a bookseller at 5 Leaves Bookstore said that he and the rest of the team have been really excited to reopen. “It’s always nice to see real people”, he said.

There wasn’t a worry of people being hesitant to come back either, as through their social media they have seen as lot of people say they are keen to get back

While the four months of lockdown was challenging, 5 Leaves had managed to start their own website to sell books on, and that “took off really well”. That new service helped keep the store going through the lockdown and, now that customers are able to return as well as the buy online, Carl and his team are “looking forward to a busy summer.”

Whilst many people are excited and pleased with the latest unlocking, some people remain cautious. Jono Beard, a supervisor at Rough Trade, said he was only a “7 out of 10” for being excited to reopen. He explained that he didn’t know if it was a good idea to open retail and more “full blast” because of the potential public health implications.

These concerns were entirely valid. The outpouring of people from their homes meant social distancing was difficult as crowds formed queues almost everywhere you looked. In the streets, people wearing masks were a minority. But there were hand sanitation stations in shops, and attendants were even asking people to take advantage and use them.

Nottinghamshire Police made their presence known in Old Market Square; several police vehicles sat stationed on the pebbled surface and uniformed officers patrolled the local area.

One café owner expressed his worry for the future of the High Street. Chris Preece, manager for the Vintage Café and Shop, said that while he was excited to reopen, he was slightly hesitant customers would return, but had concerns over the “detrimental” impact lockdown has had on businesses.

Students were excited to get back out. Iwan Hughes, a 19-year-old second year English Literature student, expressed that he “couldn’t wait” to be back in the pub. Adding “beer from a tap tastes so much better than from a can”.

Nottingham now looks like the life has been put back into it, and while the High Street’s worries are far from over, today should provide a boost in confidence to those worried.

By Kieran Burt

Lead Image: Kieran Burt

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