Here's how some of the businesses in Dacorum are preparing for the next step of the roadmap out of lockdown
England will move into stage two of the Prime Minister's roadmap from April 12
Non-essential shops, barbers, beauty salons and gyms are among those businesses that will be allowed to re-open in step 2 of the Prime Minister's roadmap out of lockdown - due to come into effect on April 12.
The Gazette spoke to some businesses in Dacorum about how they are preparing for their re-opening.
Waqas Hussain, of Chaulden Barber Shop, is looking forward to welcoming customers back on April 12, and has a number of safety guidelines in place.
He said: "We cannot wait to get back, it has been far too long. Since last March we have only been open for about 12 weeks, taking all the lockdowns and tier restrictions into consideration. That's crazy, but hopefully we can move forward now."
"We will be opening on April 12, we have hand sanitisers in store and all staff will be wearing face coverings. We do advise that customers were face coverings, unless they are exempt from wearing them.
"We will continue the walk-in system, no appointments, but we will have a track and trace book in the shop.
"The policy will be that if someone is in the chair the only other customer in the shop will be the next person who is waiting.
"We will be open seven days a week and quite long hours, so hopefully there will be a time that is convenient for our customers.
She said: “It’s an amazing feeling knowing that from April 12, we will finally be able to reopen.
"This time it feels a little different, almost as if this could be the last time we go through closures, which is the most positive thing for us as all we want to do is get back to trading and know what’s happening from month to month.
"We want to be able to give our staff more stability, and even provide our clients with the same as they have been missing the opportunity to come into the salon, spa and clinic and enjoy their usual experiences.
"Alchemy & I, Cecily Spa and Koha Skin Clinic all have an ethos based on delivering exceptional experiences, so we feel like we haven’t suffered just financially, but by not being able to deliver what our clients are used to enjoying.
"From a business point of view, we are staying positive, and we will be doing all we can to create a safe environment for clients to unwind, but we are looking forward to a future with fewer restrictions so we can feel a little less claustrophobic.
"Throughout April, Alchemy, Cecily and Koha are fully booked, and our availability for May is quickly becoming sparse, so anyone who’s in need of pampering or some hair care – we recommend you book in soon!”
Leisure centres in Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted also plan to re-open on Monday, April 12.
Both leisure centres are managed by sports and leisure operator Everyone Active in partnership with Dacorum Borough Council, will reopen their gyms and group exercise studios on Saturday, July 25
Steve Cox, Everyone Active’s contract manager, said: “We are really pleased to be working towards the reopening date of April 12.
"We have communicated with customers directly regarding the centres reopening and we are now awaiting confirmation from the Government update on April 5.
"We’re very much looking forward to reopening our centres and welcoming back the local community. Ensuring our colleagues and customers remain safe is our number one priority.
"We have taken strict measures throughout the pandemic to ensure our centres are COVID secure and these measures will continue in our centres for as long as necessary."
There will be a number of safety measures in place at Energie Fitness, Marlowes, when it welcomes back members on April 12.
The gym, run by cousins Roberto Correa and Andres Pavia, has started running outdoor classes this week.
Roberto said: "We will be re-opening on April 12, and the safety measures that were in place before we had to close will remain.
"We have sanitising gel and wipes on every station and we will be asking people to sanitise the equipment before and after they use it.
"We have also increased our already strict daily cleaning regime to ensure highly touched surfaces are thoroughly cleaned multiple times throughout the day in order to be able to provide a safe environment for our members.
"We will limit the numbers of people every hour, there will be one hour slots.
"People will need to pre-book their session before they come so we can keep track of the numbers, you can check online how busy it is.
"The pre-booking is important to limit the amount of people in the gym, and also for us to be do track and trace."
From April 12, you will also be allowed to visit beer gardens and restaurants for outdoor dining.
Ian Welland, Centre Manager at Riverside Shopping Centre, said: "Here at Riverside we’ll be continuing to ensure customers can expect a safe environment when shopping at the centre.
"Essential stores at Riverside Shopping Centre have remained open during the national lockdown - including Nationwide, plus food delivery/click & collect options from Pizza Express and Starbucks.
"Enhanced cleaning regimes, signage to guide customers on social distancing and one-way walking systems have been continued to be implemented at Riverside to ensure everyone remains safe.
"Customers can continue to expect this safe environment when visiting all stores here at Riverside come 12th April. Alongside our cleaning procedures and signage, we are also working alongside non-essential retailers at the centre to support their plans for re-opening and creating workable queueing systems.
"Safety of visitors, staff and contractors continues to remain our priority with re-opening of non-essential stores.
"As well as our signage, high cleaning procedures and queue requirements we’ll also be continuing to update visitors through our social media channels and website.
"We will be continuing to work hard to ensure the shoppers of Hemel can enjoy a safe shopping experience and we’re looking forward to welcoming our visitors back here to Riverside Shopping Centre."
A spokesperson for Marlowes added: "It is really positive to hear from the government’s recent announcement that non-essential stores could re-open from April 12, depending on the national circumstances at the time.
"Protecting the health and safety of guests and staff will remain our number one priority regardless of the outcome in April, with enhanced sanitation and social distancing measures in place throughout the centre.
"We will be reintroducing our traffic light system back to The Marlowes, to inform the community about the best times to shop.
"This will be communicated via our social media channels and website, where guests can also keep up to date with the stores that are open at the centre."
The roadmap explained
The roadmap outlines four steps for easing restrictions, before proceeding to the next step, the Government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous steps.
This assessment will be based on four tests:
> The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
> Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
> Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
> The assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions; followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased.
Step 2, no earlier than 12 April:
- Non-essential retail, personal care premises, such as hairdressers and nail salons, and public buildings, such as libraries and community centres, will reopen.
- Most outdoor attractions and settings, including zoos, and theme parks, will also reopen although wider social contact rules will apply in these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households. Drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances will also be permitted.
- Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, will also reopen
- Hospitality venues can serve people outdoors only. There will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol, and no curfew - although customers must order, eat and drink while seated.
- Self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.
- Funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and the numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15 (from 6).