Middlesbrough’s independent businesses led the way as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were finally eased.
Many were able to open for the first time in over three months, with bars, hair salons and eateries springing back into life on Saturday (July 4).
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston popped in to several to talk to owners, managers, staff and customers as ‘Independents Day’ got into full swing.
First stop on his itinerary was Dr Watson’s micropub on Baker Street where staff were adding a final lick of paint before throwing open their doors and pouring their first pints.
Next port of call was just along the street at Gallaghers hair salon where Andy chatted to owner Tony Gallagher about finally getting clients back in the chair for a much-needed trim.
At Rounton Coffee Roasters in Debenhams, the smell of freshly ground beans was already drawing in thirsty shoppers, with manager Ricky Smith even working on plans to expand.
Further down Linthorpe Road jeweller Adam Hillier was hard at work putting the finishing touches to a store re-fit, and telling Mayor Preston that online sales had remained buoyant throughout the lockdown period.
Then it was on to ever-popular restaurant Fellini’s on Linthorpe Road, where owner Eamonn Barody gave the Mayor a tour of the eatery’s new socially-distanced lay-out ahead of the first full service in several months.
Following a visit to Bentley’s independent coffee shop at the Parkway Centre in Coulby Newham, the Mayor called in at the Tipsy Cow café bar on Acklam Road to chat to owner Shaun Crake about the challenges of re-opening following the pandemic lockdown.
Mayor Preston said: “Middlesbrough’s fantastic array of independent businesses are the town’s life-blood, and they’ve been champing at the bit to open their doors again.
“It’s been a really difficult period and there are still tough times ahead, but I’ve been bowled over by the positivity and enthusiasm out there on the high street.
“Everyone I’ve met has been raring to go, and they’ve all worked incredibly hard and creatively to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and keep customers safe.
“We’ll be backing them all the way – together we will come through this, and take Middlesbrough on to even greater prosperity and success.”
• For the latest local updates and information, visit www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/covid19
For information on local help and support, visit Help Boro at www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/helpboro or call Middlesbrough Council’s support line 01642 729777
The latest advice from Government and Public Health England can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.