Leeds shop owners keep up precautions on 'Freedom Day'

Shop owners in Leeds said they were making few - if any - changes in their stores despite Covid-19 restrictions being lifted on ‘Freedom Day’.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 4:45 am

While shoppers can now choose whether to wear masks in store, many business owners were today encouraging customer-facing staff to continue wearing face coverings.

Ian De-Whytell, co-owner of Crash Records in Leeds told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “As far as we are concerned, this morning is the same as last Monday.

“We are not really changing anything - the door is open so the shop is well-ventilated, the staff serving customers are wearing masks, we are ensuring that we don’t get too full.”

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Pictured Jack Schneider, director of Accent Clothing in the Queen's Arcade, Briggate, Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty

He added: “We are still mindful of the possibility of people being in close contact with each other and with us so for our safety and our customers’ safety, we are not relaxing anything.

“You only have to look at the infection rates. The infection rates are soaring. I think we are in quite a dangerous place at the moment in terms of infection numbers.”

At Leeds Corn Exchange, despite the floor stickers still being in place on Monday morning, centre manager Adam Warner said the one-way system had now been lifted, with individual shops encouraged to decide the rules they are comfortable with.

Adam said: “We just want people to have a safe and enjoyable experience really however that works for them. We have always stayed in line with Government guidance.”

Ian De-Whytell, co-owner of Crash Records in Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty

Kate Pearson, who runs Fabrikk in the historic building, said she was not relaxing any rules.

She said: “It doesn’t make sense to bring precautions down if the numbers are going up.

“I don’t think much has really changed as far as health and safety. I think we will all just carry on as we were. Most customers are wearing masks. I’m going to wear mine and I think most of the shop owners here are.”

Jack Schneider, director of Accent Clothing, in Queen’s Arcade, said: “We are still encouraging our staff to wear masks as we want people to feel safe when they come in, whatever their feeling is towards it.

Kate Pearson, owner of Fabrikk, in the Corn Exchange, Leeds, Picture: James Hardisty

“I think there are lots of people who are still nervous about the rising case numbers. We’re still going to encourage social distancing and mask wearing, to limit the spread of the virus. [But] it’s entirely down to how customers feel.”

But he said he hoped the move to ‘return to normal’ - with more socialising and nightclubs reopening - will alter customers’ behaviour to their benefit.

“People can start living normal lives again and that’s going to help us because part of their normal lives is buying outfits to go out. The closer we get to normal, the better it will help us,” he said.

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