High Peak businesses hoping for good Christmas despite new covid rules

High Peak businesses say they are hoping for a good Christmas despite further restrictions imposed by the Government in a bid to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

This week the Government has reintroduced the work from home policy and made face coverings compulsory in most indoor public venues, including theatres and cinemas – as well as on public transport and in places like shops and hairdressers.

But with just days before Christmas how are these new rules impacting on High Peak businesses which have still been recovering from a tough two years with restrictions and lockdowns?

Paul Kerryson, CEO at the Buxton Opera House, said: “We were still encouraging people to wear a mask before the rules changed that you now have to wear a mask.

Compulsory mask wearing in shops has been reintroduced by the Government as the Omicron variant of covid spreads rapidly. Photo - Getty.

“Last year there was no seeing friends or family, no Christmas parties and no panto and I think these new restrictions which have been brought in won’t stop people coming to this year’s panto.

“People have paid money for tickets and have been looking forward to this for two years now so I don’t think people will stop coming because of the new rules.

“Yes you need to wear a mask, but only in communal areas before you take your seat. We want people to have a good time, sing along with the songs and boo the bad guy and have fun.

“I think if these restrictions continue people might be wary about booking up future events and shows in case the restrictions increase but for now let’s enjoy what we have got to look forward to.”

Paul Kerryson, Chief Executive of Buxton Opera House

The new rules which came into force this week include taking a lateral flow test before people enter “a high-risk setting”, such as a crowded place, the government says.

And this has been welcomed by Paul who says the tests will help keep everyone safe going forward in panto season.

The new measures, known as Plan B, have been brought in to limit the spread of the Omicron variant.

Data released from Trade body UK Hospitality has forecast that nationally takings in pubs and restaurants will be down by as much as 40 per cent for December as customers are staying away.

Sally Depee at Rems Cafe Bar & Restaurant, Chapel-en-le-Frith.

Sally DePee from Rems Restaurant in Chapel-en-le-Frith says they have already seen a couple of cancellations since the new restrictions were brought in.

She said: “We have had a couple of cancellations. That’s either from people having to isolate or those worried about the new covid variant.

“The new legislation doesn’t impact us as they have not made facemasks mandatory in restaurants and pubs just yet.

“Thankfully people are still booking up to come out and have a meal with us. We have welcomed Christmas parties and work dos and it’s been lovely to see everyone together and I just hope people continue to do so and support the hospitality industry.”

On Friday December, 10, Downing Street confirmed there was growing evidence that the Omicron variant of Covid spreads faster than the Delta variant.

And although there are no plans yet to introduce tougher restrictions under Plan C it is a worry for businesses about what could come.

Sally said: “We don’t know what may be introduced in the coming months or weeks and it is hanging over our heads.

“The hospitality industry has been hit very hard in recent years but we have done everything we can to ensure we are keeping our staff and customers safe and will continue to do so even if the rules do tighten up.”

Since March 2020 businesses have had to adapt and change to survive the pandemic and lockdowns.

One such business is the Clockwork Cafe in New Mills. Owner Joanne Jones said: “When all this started almost two years ago we changed how we operate.

“We moved the tables to create a collection area and with our open plan kitchen people stood at the door and shouted their order.

“We are still doing well for now, we have people coming in for breakfasts every day and we have those regulars who meet up with friends in the cafe.

“We are in Plan B now and as a community and a business we will get through this.

“If more restrictions come in then we will go back to just doing takeaways and making it work that way.

“What’s important is that we keep people safe.”

Other rules under the new Plan B scheme include, pupils at secondary schools being ‘strongly advised’ to wear face coverings in communal areas.

Some venues and events will also be legally required to check the Covid status of visitors over 18 from Wednesday, December 15. This can be done with an NHS Covid Pass, or an alternative way of showing a negative test, like a text or an email from the NHS.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. – Louise Cooper, editor.