As pubs, restaurants and hairdressers across the country opened their doors to customers, I went to Westbourne to see how independent businesses were reopening and how business owners and customers felt about returning from lockdown.

Westbourne, like many areas across the conurbation, boasts a very independent led high street and a community base happy and willing to support one another.

On the morning of the first day of the new norm, the highstreets in Bournemouth and Westbourne were noticeable quiet.

Many eateries skipped breakfast service on Saturday morning in order to ensure everything was in place for lunch service.

“It is brilliant to be reopening. There was a lot of uncertainty as to whether we could get things together in time but here we are.

Therefore, the morning saw barbers and hairdressers the busiest businesses on the highstreet, with some opening as early as 6am in order to keep up with demand of appointments.

Having only been told officially that they could open their doors this Saturday 10 days before, many salons and barbers were pushed to put all the necessary precaution in place.

Bournemouth Echo:

Anthony Beal, Owner and Manager of the Francesco Group salon in Westbourne said: “We had over 1,000 people wanting haircuts over the next two weeks and 300 people looking to get their hair cut and styled today. It’s just not possible.

“It has taken months to get to this stage. Last week, I was working 16-hour days to get everything in place for today.

“I was in here until late last night getting things set up and we were open from 7am this morning for our first clients.

“It has been a bit of a mad rush, but it is good to be welcoming back customers again.”


Owner of Harpers of Westbourne Louise Howsin, who has been running the salon since 2003, added: “It is brilliant to be reopening. There was a lot of uncertainty as to whether we could get things together in time but here we are.

“The last three months have been really hard and emotional for a lot of our staff.

"We knew we had to make quite a few changed to the place in order to accommodate people so my husband, my parents and I were in here until 11pm last night getting things sorted."

However the long wait and the rush to book appointments has been worth it for the lucky ones who were seen on the Saturday.

One Westbourne resident said: “I was due to have my hair done on the day we went into lockdown.

“When I first found out slaons were reopening, I called up my hairdressers to see if they could see me as soon as possible and they were very helpful in fitting me in.

“It may not seem like a lot, but it does wonders for your self-esteem and you do feel like a new woman.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Restaurants in Westbourne welcomed back customers in an orderly fashion, with spaced out booking and regular intervals between tables to help reduce the flow of people.

A lot of them used their three month closure to refurbish the restaurants to welcome back customers with new interiorsn and new menus.

Bournemouth Echo:

Eno Fernandez, manager of The Lazy Fox, said: “We are happy to go slowly to start with as we want to make sure our customers are happy and familiar with the new surroundings and our staff get used to the new system.

“Our Westbourne customers like the attention and the personal service we provide so that is what we want to provide for them here.

“We were closed for a few months, about a month ago we started our refurbishment and a couple of weeks ago we started doing takeaways and deliveries again and have been doing that for three weeks.

“So slowly getting back to normal has helped both our chefs and fromt of house staff so that theya re prepared now."

Bournemouth Echo:

The manager at Dots Teas added: “The weather hasn’t been great which has probably helped if anything.

“It has helped with a slow start which I think a lot of businesses around here are probably pleased with.

“Honestly we have been quite lucky. We have been offering afternoon teas as takeaways or deliveries and people have been received really well. So much so that we may have started another business stream.

“We haven’t made much of a profit over lockdown but we have got through it in a better position than I think we thought we’d be.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Pubs, on the whole, saw a big rush in customers come the early afternoon.

However, with screens hung up to drive long tables and over the bars, as well as signage and markings on the floor to direct customers and staff, the majority were able to host large numbers with relative ease.

General Manger of The Duck Omar De Col said: “It has been busy today; we are pretty much fully booked.

"We have had to put measures in place like a queuing system which we don’t usually have but our customers have been happy to go along with it.

"We have tried to space out booking to reduce the stain on staff and the kitchen, but it seems like everyone just wanted to come out today.

Bournemouth Echo:

"We are limiting six customers per table maximum and trying to stick to two-hour slots. We just want to reduce the risk as much as possible."

A customer at The Duck added: “It is good to have pubs back open. 

"I’m happy to be going back to some sort of normality and it’s a good excuse to meet up with your mates and socialise.”