AS Covid restrictions eased across the country yesterday to mark the start of "Freedom Day", The Northern Echo spoke to businesses in the region to see how they got on.

With the requirement to wear masks being lifted and the decision to wear one being left to the customer, businesses in the region found reception to the changes was mixed.

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Most businesses welcomed the changes and were happy to see things, mostly, going back to normal. 

Other restrictions that were lifted included the limit on the number of people who can meet, nightclubs are able to reopen and pubs and restaurants no longer have to carry out table service.

Fraser Stephenson of the Durham Ox said: “It’s a bit busier than usual, everyone seems to be happier, more comfortable, certainly the staff, they’re happier.

The Northern Echo:

“Everyone just seems to be enjoying themselves a little bit more than yesterday.

“I’m very happy personally and quite comfortable as well, business wise It’s great for me, obviously it’s going to massively boost the business itself, so it’s all good so far.

“I hope things will continue this way, I think things are looking good so far so fingers crossed it stays this way.

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Sue Stuart of the Garthway Tea Room said: “It’s no busier today than usual, it’s been really quiet today, but I think it might be the weather, it has been much quieter all round really.

“We haven’t done anything different so we’ve just kept everything in place more or less and I think the customers are doing the same, still wearing masks and washing their hands and everything so.

“I think people will continue to be wary, at the moment yeah, it may change later on but I don’t know.

“It’ll have to change sometime we can’t go on forever like this, at the moment, I think they are being wary. All our customers aren’t back anyway.

“We had a lot of oldy customers and we haven’t seen them back yet so we’ll have to wait and see.

Linda Robinson, staff member at Grovers Optics Photo and Toymaster, said: “Everybody is still wearing their masks or they seem to be, there might be the odd person that isn’t.

The Northern Echo:

“We’re not asking anyone to, I don’t think we’ve had anymore customers in I think it is about the same it has been for the last two weeks.

“I think we’re comfortable with the restrictions are easing, as long as the customers are comfortable as well. We are not restricting anybody, the owners not wearing one.

“We’ve still got the one way signs on the floor but we are not telling anyone to do anything really.

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“we thought it would be better than it’s turned out, but of course the cases in Northallerton are ridiculous, in Hambleton, I think that’s putting people off coming out.

“I was out earlier this morning and in various other shops and they seem to all be doing the same everywhere, they’re still wearing them.

“Hopefully one day we’ll be able to say things are okay , I don’t think they’ll get back to normal but hopefully a new kind of normal with people being careful.

“Hopefully one day it’ll all be wonderful and the shops will be crowded again.”

Isabell Collyns, manager of Bliss Café, said: “it’s been really good we’ve had probably 70 per cent of our customers today haven’t worn face masks and 30 per cent have, and I’d say the same for our staff members as well.

The Northern Echo:

“Some of them are comfortable wearing them and some of them aren’t. I think it’s the son as well everyone is quite happy about it all to be out again.

“We’ve been the same all the way through and cleaning everywhere and making sure everywhere is as safe as possible, but people are grown ups and we’re letting them decide.

“One of our staff members is hoping to go away in a couple of weeks and she needs to be ablet to wear a mask, so she can go away and that’s entirely fine.

“We are just letting everyone crack on, there’s just a lot of mothering recently so.

“Masks will continue I think, we’ve had so many children that come in and go immediately to face masks and hand sanitising it’s kind of a massive culture change it’s really interesting. But I think people are happy to have masks off.

“I think people are happy to have masks off and although cases are high, hospitalisation is quite low so I think as long as it stays like that people will continue with it all, it’s kind of a collective feeling that it’s time to go back to normal now.”


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