Planning for a happy return – at last!
The vast majority have had to batten down the hatches during the last 12 months and focus on survival rather than success.
However, Boris Johnson’s recent announcement about the steps out of lockdown offer genuine hope for the future.
The first indication there is light at the end of the tunnel will be a return to school from Monday (March 8).
Between then and June 21, it is hoped all businesses will re-open – at various stages and subject to various Covid-19 related targets being met.
The main date for our high streets is April 12 when non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen.
The list includes clothing stores, charity and antique shops, car showrooms, mobile phone shops and betting shops.
Personal care facilities and close contact services will also reopen, including hair, beauty and nail salons.
Indoor sports and leisure facilities will also reopen, including gyms and leisure centres.
Self-contained holiday accommodation and outdoor areas at hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs) will also get the green light along with animal attractions like wildlife parks.
The next step Step (no earlier than May 17) will see indoor entertainment and visitor attractions reopen, including pubs, cinemas, theatres, concert halls and museums.
Remaining holiday accommodation can reopen and spectators will be allowed at elite sporting and performance events.
Finally – and not before June 21 – it will be the turn of nightclubs and adult entertainment venues while any remaining restrictions on social contact and large events could also be lifted.
One of the first attractions to welcome visitors will be Jubilee Park’s open air heated pool in Woodhall Hall Spa,
The ‘big day’ should be March 29 with the park’s fitness suite and caravan site set to re-open two weeks later on April 12 – if all goes to plan with the current lockdown timetable.
Staff are currently making sure everything is ready for the re-opening and that the pool area will comply with the regulations.
To begin with, swimming sessions will have to be pre-booked as numbers have to be limited.
“Operation director Joe Stanhope said: “We’re thrilled to be able to welcome people back soon.
“It’s been a nail-biting time waiting for dates.
“Last year, we perfected our safety procedures so we’re confident that visiting the pool will be as safe as possible.
“ We have outdoor showers and changing facilities though many swimmers chose to come ‘beach ready’.”
Outdoor fitness classes can also begin from March 29 while membership of the fitness suite will be unfrozen from April 12.
Swimming is included in the membership and as a special thank-you for their loyal support during the last difficult year, members are being allocated a small portion of tickets for the swimming sessions in the first two weeks, free of charge.
Although the caravan site will open on April 12, from then until May 17 the shared facilities of the shower and toilet block, laundry, washing up, baby change, disabled shower and toilet will have to remain closed.
During this time, the park will only be accepting bookings from caravans and motorhomes that have their own facilities and, regrettably, no group bookings can be taken
Mr Stanhope added: “We’re also looking carefully at which events we may still be able to accommodate later in the season and any other ways of boosting our income until we can accept normal numbers in all our facilities.”
He warned that with most staff still furloughed, there may be a delay in responding to phone or email enquiries and has appealed for customers to be patient.
All the indications are that ‘Staycations’ will be very popular this summer, especially with doubts surrounding plans for overseas’ travel.
One of the area’s biggest resorts is Tattershall Lakes Country Park where staff admit they have been struggling to cope with the volume of calls in recent days.
A spokesman for the park, owned by leisure giants, Away Resorts, said: “We are currently experience high volumes of calls regarding holiday bookings.
“We would like to say a huge thank=you for your patience.
“Bring on April 12!”
That’s also the date for the planned re-opening of the award-winning Greetham Retreat holiday cottages near Horncastle.
Owners Rob and Jeanette Folwell said: “We will be operating in a Covid-secure manner and in accordance with the UK Government and public health guidance.
“We have received accreditation from the national industry standard called ‘we’re good to go’ confirming that we have introduced the required Covid-secure measures.
“We have carried out a comprehensive assessment of the risks involved, reviewed our operating procedures and working practices, and have implemented many new measures to help manage and restrict the opportunities for the spread of infection from the virus.”
The likes of the Admiral Rodney Hotel and the Petwood Hotel will have to wait longer to open their doors again although, encouragingly, both are busy dealing with enquiries and advance bookings – including weddings.
As for pubs, there’s a cautious approach.
Kerry Fussey and her partner Steve, who run the Red Lion at Revesby, will not be opening for outdoor sales on April 12 and will wait until May, when more restrictions are lifted.
Kerry said: “It’s just not viable for us to open in April because we are out in the sticks – we are more of a destination pub.
“We also don’t want a repeat of last summer when visitors rushed to the county as restrictions were eased.
“It was like lockdown had made people feral.
“In spite of the social distancing and measures we had put in place to keep everyone safe, families were allowing children to run up to the bar, some customers refused to wear masks and many were rude.”
New landlords at the Ship Inn in Horncastle do plan to welcome visitors outdoors from April 12 while impressive outdoor facilities at the nearby Harpar’s Bar could also be utilised for the first time.
The Cup Half Full in Horncastle plans to have a new outdoor seating area in place for April 12, along with an alcohol licence. A new ice-cream parlour should be up and running for the Easter holidays.
Meanwhile, bears Maxi and Amelia – and all their fellow animals – will be looking forward to welcoming visitors to the Wolds Wildlife Park.
It will open from April 12-18 – and then every weekend until further notice.
Joint owner Tracy Walters said: “We really can’t wait to see everyone again after a long winter lockdown.”
While there is no shortage of positivity, there have inevitably been some casualties in lockdown – one of the latest being the popular Old School House in Horncastle.