Hackney shops, beer gardens and hairdressers get green light to reopen on April 12

The Arty Vegan at Netil Market in Hackney.

The Arty Vegan is a deli at Netil Market in London Fields. - Credit: The Arty Vegan

Hackney beer gardens, non-essential shops, hairdressers, salons and gyms are preparing to safely welcome customers on April 12, after prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed Step 2 of the government's roadmap to lifting lockdown. 

Mr Johnson's announcement at a press conference on Easter  Monday was welcome news to Hackney business owners across the borough eager to open their doors once again after the Covid pandemic.

Owner Stephanie Hannington-Suen of Homework, a lifestyle brand located at London Fields' Netil Market, said: “We’re very much looking forward to reopening our store and being able to interact with customers again.

"During lockdown, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to continue selling online but we have missed speaking with customers and talking to them about our story and approach when creating our products."

She says the lockdowns have shifted people's shopping habits, with more customers "happy to wait for longer" for her shop's local handmade and sustainable products inspired by traditional Chinese medicine.

Nail salon owner Laura Southern, however, says she has fought to keep her Hackney Downs Studios business, House of Lady Muck (HOLM), from closing.

Nail salon owner Laura Southern, however, says she has fought to keep her Hackney based business, House of Lady Muck (HOLM), from closing.

House of Lady Muck (HOLM) owner, Laura Southern. 

House of Lady Muck (HOLM) owner, Laura Southern. - Credit: HOLM

She said she was excited to reopen but added: "It is of great importance, now more than ever, for the Hackney community to come together and support our local businesses."

Laura says it is "vital" customer's return to wellness and beauty spaces like hers as they still cannot work to capacity, due to social distancing guidelines. 

Despite such difficulties the businesses online shop, launched during lockdown, has proven so successful that HOLM is now opening a lifestyle concept store at Hackney Downs Studio on April 17.

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Other establishments like Deli-shop The Arty Vegan, located at Netil Market in London Fields, welcome the easing of restrictions despite remaining open throughout the pandemic. 

The Arty Vegan staff.

The Arty Vegan deli was set up by father-daughter duo Maurelio and Ellora Torchia. - Credit: The Arty Vegan

Ellora Torchia, Co-Founder of The Arty Vegan at Netil Market told the Gazette how difficult things have been since opening the outlet during lockdown: "While this period has been tiring and at times felt hopeless, in true arty style, we have stayed true to the reason why we do what we do, and we believe people have felt this, and stuck by us throughout."

Meanwhile, Hackney eateries like Pastore Pasta, which has set up Al Fresco dining on the terrace at Hackney Downs Studios, added that support from other businesses has been key during the pandemic.

Co-founder Jake White said: "We knew it was always going to be a challenge getting through autumn and winter but we can now see the light and are incredibly excited to safely open on Monday.”

Pastore Pasta founders Jake White and Oliver Wadham.

Pastore Pasta founders Jake White and Oliver Wadham. - Credit: Pastore Pasta

And here is all the information you need about the April 12 ‘Step 2’ phase. 

Which businesses can reopen? 

Retail outlets deemed "non-essential" will be allowed to reopen their doors from Monday, April 12. 

Personal care businesses such as hairdressers, barbers, beauty and nail salons will also be able to welcome customers once again. 

And indoor gyms and spas can open, though saunas and steam rooms will have to wait at least another five weeks. 

Netil Market in London Fields.

Businesses and eateries at Netil Market in London Fields are preparing to reopen on April 12. Netil Market is a community of independent shops and food vendors and is run by Eat Work Art - Credit: WIJ Travers

Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers outside where possible. This time there is no requirement for a "substantial" meal to be served alongside alcohol and no curfew, though people will need to be seated while eating or drinking. 

Other outdoor attractions can begin operating again, such as zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and other drive-in performances. 

All of these premises must continue to ensure social distancing is adhered to. Indoor settings must only be visited alone or with household groups, while outdoor settings remain limited to six people or two households. 

Hackney Downs Studios.

Hackney Downs Studios is home to a community of over 100 studios full of artists, designers, makers and independent creative businesses. - Credit: Eat Work Art

What else is changing? 

Overnight stays away from home in England will be allowed, while self-contained holiday lets and accommodation can reopen. They must only be used by members of the same household or bubble, however. 

Residents in care homes can now have two different visitors, where they had previously been limited to just one. 

Indoor parent and child groups of up to 15 people – not including children under five – can restart. 

Up to 30 people will be able to attend funerals to say a final goodbye to loved ones, while other commemorative events like weddings, outdoor receptions and wakes can have up to 15 people. 

And a Covid-status certification system will be developed over the next few months, which the government says will allow higher-risk settings to reopen more safely and with more people. 

It will take into account vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity (based on a positive test in the last six months). Pilots will take place from the middle of this month. 

What's still to come? 

Changes to social contact will still have to wait until at least May 17, when the government says it will look at easing limits on seeing and interacting with friends and family. 

It is at this point when the rule of six may be extended to indoor settings. 

Pubs and restaurants will have to wait at least another five weeks until they can welcome customers indoors again. It is hoped most other indoor businesses will be able to reopen by the middle of May. 

May 17 is also when the rest of the accommodation sector, such as hotels and B&Bs, may be able to reopen. 

This is also the mooted date for the resumption of indoor performances – to a socially-distanced crowd – while large outdoor arenas may be able to welcome a crowd up to a quarter of its capacity. 

By June 21, it is hoped all legal limits on social contact will be removed, while remaining businesses such as nightclubs might finally be able to welcome customers once again.