Haverhill businesses delighted to see the return of customers after months of closure
The relief and joy, with even a dash of continental-style pavement culture thrown in, was palpable in Haverhill this week as businesses opened up again for customers.
Monday saw the latest step taken in the Government’s roadmap out of the national lockdown, as non-essential shops, cafés, restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers were able to open up to customers again after three months of closure.
Queen Street was lined with tables, chairs and parasols, as people took the opportunity to catch up with a friend or family member over a coffee or have a bite to eat at their place of choice after months of not being able to.
Currently, only outside service is allowed at restaurants, pubs and cafés until mid May, when indoors service will be permitted.
Harry Zachariou, the owner of Déjà Vu in Queen Street, was very impressed with what he saw. “It is fantastic being back and seeing our customers,” he said.
“We will be reliant on the weather but Monday turned out to be a lovely day and everyone enjoyed sitting outdoors.
“There was a great atmosphere and it had a cosmopolitan-style feel to it.
“It is something I would like to see in the town more and more.”
Wendy Yagir, who along with husband Ali owns Starburger in Queen Street, echoed Harry’s comments.
She was particularly pleased with the help given to her business and others by West Suffolk Council in allowing them to put more tables and chairs outside for the time being.
Wendy added: “The council have been really good.
“We had to apply for a pavement licence to get a bit of frontage, we we wanted to extend because we are still losing a number of bums on seats and the council came down and said ‘we will do it for now to support you’.
“So many European countries are used to pavement dining and we are not and we don’t do it enough and it’s added a nice vibe to the town.
“I’m hoping, and so are the other businesses, to give something to the council to say can we keep doing this, not just through Covid, but forever. It would be nice to have it continuing every summer.”
Michelle Wicks, owner of D:Fine Hair and Beauty, in High Street, was delighted to be reopening.
She said: “It was lovely seeing our customers for the first time and having a bit of normality again.
“My staff have been amazing throughout and I must thank our loyal customers as well. The last lockdown was particularly tough for everyone but seeing our customers again – and hearing them say how safe they feel – has made all the hard work worthwhile.”
Sam Potter, store manager of Hughes, said the return of many businesses in the town felt like some ‘normality’ had returned.
He added: “It is great to be back and I think it has helped everyone.
“Our staff have come back from furlough and our first customers on Monday seemed equally relieved as we are part of their shopping habits.
“They might come in and pay a bill or browse and I think they were pleased that we were back.
“We have done everything we can to make it safe, secure and welcoming for customers and staff alike.
“We hope everyone will return, realise it is a safe environment and support our town centre and shop local.”
John Mayhew, spokesman for Heart of Haverhill, said: “We are delighted to have many more businesses in our town centre reopen this week and to hear that they have got off to a good start.
“Our businesses have worked incredibly hard to provide a safe environment and we urge local people to support them and shop local.
“We also encourage our businesses to grasp this opportunity and help look for ways to make Haverhill a go-to place.
“The fact vaccination rates in our area are really high and local infection rates are low is another reason why our town centre is a safe place to shop and enjoy.
“We hope businesses will soon be supported by a new Town Centre Manager who will act as a real catalyst for change and further improvement.”