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Responsible local businesses praised by MSP

By David Porter

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As the north-east opened its doors for the majority of retailers today, local businesses have done their bit to keep Covid-19 suppressed.

Stores such as Gibbs Menswear have adapted their layouts to accomodate protective screens.
Stores such as Gibbs Menswear have adapted their layouts to accomodate protective screens.

Businesses of all types and sizes have put in place measures to keep both staff and customers safe, while still preserving the pleasant experience of shopping.

Across the region, proprietors have altered their stores and facilities to enable physical distancing as well as providing face coverings, gloves and hand sanitizer to help do their part to get the Aberdeenshire economy moving again.

Local MSP Gillian Martin has heaped praise on business owners who have behaved responsibly and taken steps to prevent a damaging retreat into lockdown.

Cat Walkers, a family owned clothes shop located on Bridge Street in Ellon, has installed a screen at their payment counter, is making masks and hand sanitizers available to customers and will steam all clothes after they’ve tried on.

They have even created appointment days, on which customers can book the shop to themselves for a period of time.

Proprietor, Andrew Walker said: “We were so looking forward to opening again, we are following the guidelines set out by the government, and still offering our much valued customers an enjoyable experience.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support and kind wishes over the lockdown it has kept us motivated and encouraged.”

I&K Motors in Inverurie have re-organised their lot to allow customers to view cars while maintaining physical distancing.

Cars will be sanitized both before and after test drives, which customers can take alone. Staff and customers will have temperatures taken and both face coverings and hand sanitizers will be available.

Customers can also book appointments in advance.

Bill Duncan, Director at I&K said: “We fully understand that many people will be apprehensive and we have implemented many steps which will ensure their safety during their visit.

"We are very lucky to have a site large enough to ensure social distancing from the outset.”

Jack Strachan and Rachel Henderson welcomed customers back to Strachan's in Inverurie
Jack Strachan and Rachel Henderson welcomed customers back to Strachan's in Inverurie

Strachan’s of West High Street Inverurie, a family owned newsagent food retailer and toy shop, have continued to operate their newspaper delivery service behind closed doors.

With assistance from Inverurie BID and a risk assessment they have moved around the front area of their shop to create a one way system.

Shona Singer, of Strachan’s said:“Our staff remain our number one priority; we have fitted Perspex screens and provided them with the option of wearing masks.

"As well as masks, we’ve also provided gloves, we have hand sanitiser and cleaning materials at each counter, to be used regularly, and a schedule for regular hand washing.”

“We will continue to adjust these procedures as government guidance changes and we react to how our customers habits have changed.

"We have an amazing customer base who continued to support us during lockdown, and hope to sustain this by offering click and collect and delivery services for anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable or isn’t able to get out and about yet.”

“This has definitely been one of the more challenging periods during the life of our business but hopefully we can continue safely and successfully as we come out of this phase.”

MSP for Aberdeenshire East added:“Lockdown has been an extremely trying time for our retailers, especially those family owned local ones.

"They are vital to our local economy and communities and many have behaved impeccably responsibly in preparing to reopen.”

“Our local retailers rely on a relationship with the community.

"Outlets, such as I&K Motors, have taken that seriously by working to protect their staff and customers alike.

"Efforts like these will be a big part of keeping us out of lockdown, and edging us closer to normality.”

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