Lockdown easing gets the thumbs up from staff and customers across east Antrim

Be distance aware, wear face covering and welcome back was the message with a number of east Antrim’s business sectors reopening today (Friday) as pandemic restrictions ease.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 4:27 pm

Hairdresser salons and barber shops were among the busiest as customers jumped at the opportunity to shake off the lockdown look.

Ahead of reopening, Butlers Barber Shop at Carrick’s Market Place, where appointments were being snapped up, stated: “We are so excited to be finally getting back to doing what we love and getting a catch up with you all.”

It was a similar view at Serenity Hair on Carrick’s North Road, which yesterday posted on social media: “We are looking forward to seeing all our lovely clients tomorrow . And are delighted to welcome you all to our gorgeous salon revamp.”

Dobbins Inn has created a seated area in preparation for outdoor hospitality returning on April 30.

The salon’s story was highlighted last autumn by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council as businesses endeavoured to navigate their way through the various stages of lockdown. Click here

From today non-essential shops can offer click-and-collect, outdoor retail is open, outdoor visitor attractions can re-open and driving lessons and tests can resume. Furthermore, up to 10 people from two households can meet up in private gardens.

In a message accompanied by a video of the Mayor, Councillor Peter Johnston, visiting a barber shop during a previous relaxation of lockdown measures, Mid and East Antrim Council stated: “We would like to wish all the close contact businesses across our borough all the best with reopening today! To customers - please be distance aware and wear a face coverings where not exempt.”

Council is also advising that The Gobbins top path in Islandmagee will be closed this weekend to facilitate essential health and safety works before reopening. However, from Monday (April 26) The Gobbins will reopen for tours.

With further easing agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive from next Friday (April 30), the hospitality sector is also gearing itself for a return. Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants can operate outdoors but customers must be seated, with a maximum of six people from two households at each table.

Kirsty Fallis, general manager of Dobbins Inn on Carrickfergus High Street, said: “We have created a beer garden area out the back - hope to be busy, bookings only at the moment.”

On the opposite side of the street to the historic hotel, Wetherspoon has also announced it is opening the beer garden at the Central Bar on the same date.

Also from April 30, up to 15 people from three households can meet outdoors (including in a private garden), all non-essential retail will reopen, and the closing time of 11pm for takeaways and 8.00pm for off-licences and selling of alcohol will be removed.

Gyms and swimming pools will reopen for individual exercise. The return of access to the leisure centre is eagerly anticipated by Larne Swimming Club. Click here

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