Julie Walker, Vanity Hair Nails and Beauty, New Road, Ayr:

THE lockdown was a big blow as I was due to open my new salon, Vanity Hair Nails and Beauty, in Ayr on March 24. I just had a small office space in Ayr High Street before and had spent quite a bit of money kitting out the new premises for myself and a full-time, self-employed beautician in the other room.

As a favour my new landlord had given me time after getting the keys in February to kit out the shop before I had to pay, but to be eligible for the £10,000 lockdown grant you had to be liable for the rates on March 17 – which meant I just missed out on qualifying.

I did get a newly self-employed grant of £2000 but I had borrowed money from my grandparents to kit it out and I had to pay that back which meant I was left with £1000.

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I have now paid out £400 in PPE just for myself and the salon. I had already bought masks, paper towels and hand sanitiser but then we got the regulations on Friday and we have to wear a full shield visor and I need a Perspex shield in front of the reception desk as well as a Perspex screen between the two salon chairs if another hairdresser rents a chair.

We could have done with the guidance earlier. The beauty room opens on July 22 but there are still no regulations out for that.

The last couple of weeks have been quite stressful as we had an opening date but did not know what we needed to put in place. It is a lot of stress for a new business because you are worried if you are doing things correctly.

I am fully booked for the first two weeks but I am having to do longer hours for less money because I can’t deal with more than one customer at a time. I will be working from 10am until 10pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays when it would normally be 10am until 5.30pm.

It’s funny though because during lockdown all you heard people saying was that they needed their hair done!

I can’t book in appointments the way I usually would where you would put colour on someone and work on someone else while the colour is on. You can’t have anyone else in the salon because of social distancing. Fingers crossed we will be able to put up a screen to allow two clients in at once but at the moment it is one in and one out. I also need time to sterilise everything after clients.

We have three children so I will be juggling childcare but my family are all shielding.

It would be much easier if we could go back to normality and not have to do longer hours. I was also quite stressed about the fact that until last week I was not allowed in my brother’s house or my brother-in-law’s house but I am opening a salon on Wednesday and seeing 20 or 30 clients in a week.

We have really stuck to the whole lockdown thing so it is quite daunting. We haven’t let the kids in shops but now, suddenly, I am letting all these people round me and then coming home to the children so opening up causes some mixed emotions.

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I am obviously really excited about opening a new salon because I have waited to do so for ages and it felt like it was never going to happen. I have been in lockdown with the kids for a whole 12 weeks so it will be nice to get to work, but it is obviously quite daunting. Are you protecting all your clients enough? Are you doing it properly? It is a lot to take on.

It’s funny though because during lockdown, although all the shops and everything else was shut all you heard people saying was that they needed their hair done!

Colin Clydesdale, owner of the Ubiquitous Chip, Stravaigin and the Hanoi Bike Shop restaurants in Glasgow:

WE have been closed for four months and have over 100 staff so it has been incredibly difficult. We have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to safeguard as many jobs as we possibly can. We have got a fair amount of staff in at the moment, setting up for opening inside on Wednesday so it is all hands on deck.

We opened outside at the Chip on Monday with a few tables. Opening the doors and having folk sitting outside and life back in the place was beautiful. The Chip has been here 50 years in January and seeing it empty day after day after day was awful. It is not just a business. It has meant a lot to many people over a long time and it felt like it was a sort of wounded beast just lying there for months.

I understand thoroughly why the whole social thing was removed as a result of the pandemic but we are getting a chance to be social again and I think we all really need that

We have had several generations of folk come through the Chip as customers and seeing it shut was entirely wrong.

It has a long history. My dad started it and Alasdair Gray [artist and novelist] was in with the bricks. Back in the day, when neither my dad nor Alasdair had any cash, my dad needed a wall decorated but had no money for painters. Alasdair said he would do it in exchange for his tea now and again. That’s how the murals started back in the Seventies – both made quite a success of what they then went on to do!

Seeing folk back enjoying the Chip was lovely to watch. I understand thoroughly why the whole social thing was removed as a result of the pandemic but we are getting a chance to be social again and I think we all really need that.

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We would normally have about 200 seats in the Chip alone and I am not sure what it is going to be when we open because we are still adapting at the moment. Some areas are working out better than we thought they would, while others are far worse than we thought. It is a work in progress.

What is concerning a lot of folk in the trade is that we are incurring costs without having income and then the legislation might change again. It really matters that we get the information and it is accurate.

We were kind of worried that we would have to police it rigorously but in fact folk are going with it

Some of it is costing an awful lot of money. The Chip is unique and what we have done is make the changes look part of the building. That costs far more money than a Perspex screen but we have made the building prettier and if these rules last a year it won’t be an eyesore throughout. We don’t want to look like a building site so we have partitioned things off using various old Victorian bits and pieces for our screens to make it look like they have always been there.

We have got spacing, screens, masks, gloves, sanitiser and we have people cleaning constantly throughout the day so we are doing as much as we can to safeguard folk. We’ve even got the kind of steam cleaner that is used in hospitals as it wipes out bacteria.

We are using a one-way system as much as possible and in the toilets it is one in and one out. We were kind of worried that we would have to police it rigorously but in fact folk are going with it. They are not being daft. They are delighted to be out and are going about it in the right way.

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The restrictions are harder in the smaller places. The Hanoi has been open outside since last Monday and has been full of folk who have enjoyed being able to come for lunch and a glass of wine. Stravaigin opened outside on Friday and both will open inside on Wednesday with spacing and a one-way system but capacity has been hammered. It will probably be down to 50%.

We could have postponed opening but that is not what we wanted to do. People who are in catering work hard and they are inventive so when a problem comes up, you sort it and you move on. Sitting dormant and remaining shut is not part of our character.

Nothing is certain but if people are comfortable enough about getting back to socialising under the new structures then there is a future. We want to make people as comfortable as we can and the feedback we have had so far has been magic. People are just delighted to get a bit of life back and, as with all these things, the further we progress the more people will be at ease with it. I have been really pleased with the way our staff and the customers have made it all work. There is a willingness to make it work.

This feels like all the restaurants and customers have been given a wee chance at life again. It is hopeful and there has not been a lot of hope about.

David Morris, managing director, New Picture House Cinema, St Andrews:

IT’S been useful, having Scotland slightly later than England in the reopening process. We’ve been able to see what works and what doesn’t. There are benefits to not going first.

Our last programme before we closed in March had Onward, Military Wives and Misbehaviour. It feels so long ago. We haven’t set our reopening date yet but we’re looking at mid-August. That way we can see how things are going. Some of the bigger companies have put their dates back a couple of weeks, so we’re watching what’s happening with them and how business comes back.

I haven’t spent my lockdown watching Netflix – that’s the competition

We’re also thinking about what films are coming out. Some cinemas in England have been operating with older films, but our audience is looking for new films. At the moment I don’t think there’s enough of them to take enough business in. We wouldn’t want to start off with a blockbuster because we’re not going to be able to use our full capacity, which is quite a big worry for us. We want to feel our way.

Bond is due out in November and that’s a massive film for all cinemas, so we’re hoping the distancing will reduce to 1 metre before long. We’ve got a general plan in place for our three screens and sanitation, but we’ll need to think about extra staff for cleaning and things like that.

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The other worry is that people have paid their Netflix subscriptions and they’re enjoying film in their house. There’s plenty of scope for people being desperate to get back into the cinema I hope, but we don’t know. It’s a communal experience – if it’s comedy and everybody is laughing together, you can’t compare it with home viewing.

It’s amazing how cinema has survived. They reckoned it was the end when video came out, then DVDs and online, but cinema has thrived really well. We were pretty happy until this last jolt.

We refurbished the foyer before all this happened so we have something really nice to go back to, and our 14 staff will all come back.

Our cinema is listed so there’s not a lot of alteration we can make to the building, but we’ll use emergency exits as standard so there’s a separate entrance and exit.

It’s amazing how the cost of sanitiser, face masks and visors all adds up.

We’ll have to change our scheduling so all three screens aren’t starting and finishing at the same time. We’ll be grateful to see people come back.

I haven’t spent my lockdown watching Netflix – that’s the competition, so I don’t use it. I’ve watched plenty of old black and white films though. There’s just something special about them, the Cary Grants and films from the 1950s.