Business owners are encouraging people to support independent shops and pubs as lockdown restrictions ease.

People have now started to return to high streets and shopping centres this month as some non-essential businesses were given the green light to reopen.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced a the Downing Street daily press conference yesterday (June 23) that pubs could also open from next Saturday (July 4).

As a result of these businesses reopening, owners are now encouraging people to support independent shops and hospitality businesses such as pubs as they prepare to reopen.

Theydon Oak

Iain Moran, 39, owner of the Theydon Oak located on Coopersale Street, Epping has said he is "relieved" to be reopening from next week.

He said: "It’s great to get back to some sort of normal.

"It will be nice to not have so much silence. I’ve done this all my life so I’m always used to noise.

"I think it’s the right thing to bring them back.”

He now wants to reassure customers that it is safe to return to pubs once they reopen.

He added: "We are going to keep all customers outside to start with and we have kept the tables at a two-metre distance.

"It’s safer to come into a pub area which is outside then it is to be going to a shopping centre or a supermarket."

Throughout lockdown Iain said he’s had to adapt his business by switching to serving take-aways which he says has helped kept his business afloat.

He said: "We’ve have doing take-aways on Fridays and Saturdays and it has helped keep our name out there.

"We have had weekends where it has been really good – we did over a hundred roast dinners for Father’s day."

Coles Menswear

Owner Freddy Cole has already reopened his shop in Epping and said being closed in lockdown was an "eye opening period".

In lockdown he was working on his shop's website to offer clothing for customers at home, but said the levels of sales would not have been sustainable long term.

He said: "Since opening we had an initial busy few days but it has slowed down since then. We are currently open on reduced hours, from 10am to 4pm, and reduced staff to mirror the level of customers."

Within the shop he has introduced measures such as hand sanitiser at the entrance, two metre distancing rules, only allowing three people into the store at a time and not allowing people to touch products unless they want to buy it.

He added: "We have quarantine rails for any items returned or touched in the store. We are fully aware that some of our loyal client base is in the vulnerable age bracket so we take all precautions seriously."

Freddy is also asking people to support small businesses as "every single shop has done its part".

He added: "Epping being the small independent town that it is has done so much to make shopping as safe as possible, every single shop has done its part. "If you're not ready for the larger shops with crowds of people waiting to go in, do still support the small independent businesses - they are different.

"With the reduced footfall they all have the ability to clean after every customer and keep strictly to any guidelines that the Government proposes. We need the local support to slowly return and we know that Epping will do just that."

"It is brilliant to see our local high streets come to life"

Councillor Holly Whitbread is also encouraging people to visit high streets and shopping parades to help small and independent businesses.

She said: "It is brilliant to see our local high streets come to life as lock down measures begin to ease.

"As we adapt to the 'new normal' I would encourage residents to visit high streets and shopping parades across Epping Forest, whilst of course adhering to social distancing and ensuring you wash your hands often.

"Epping Forest District Council have supporting the reopening of our high streets by reducing parking charges, meaning visitors can park longer for less. It now costs 20p for 2.5 hours parking.

"Further to this the council have supplied social distancing stickers and signage and officers have been available to provide advice and support to local business owners.

"There is an excellent range of shops across our district, it has been great to see businesses innovate and adapt during the Covid-19 crisis.

"I am excited to see pubs, restaurants and cafes reopen in the coming weeks. Now more than ever it is important to support local business and help our local economy recover."