As England clocks up another week in national lockdown, local business owners still don’t know when they’ll be able to open.
The Coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges for businesses of all sizes, but for local entrepreneurs trying to grow new ventures in the middle of a global crisis, the pressure is particularly high.
Rebecca Ingleby Davies, a graphic designer from the Brecon Beacons, started Nantseren, a new glamping business on her family farm in the middle of the pandemic.
“We were originally planning to open last summer, but we couldn’t as the pandemic meant the tents couldn’t be delivered on time, we couldn’t get the building work finished so we simply couldn’t start up.”
Despite the delayed launch, Nantseren has allowed customers to pre-book for summer 2021 and Rebecca is pleased with the growing interest from customers.
“It’s a new venture so it’s exciting to see that it’s working, but we’re trying to be cautious about our excitement because we know it may all be put back on hold.”
Lockdown rules have also made it impossible for massage therapists to work, with the government guidelines instructing that “close contact services” cannot operate until restrictions are eased.
“I HAD TO GET ANOTHER JOB”
IAN DARBY – MASSAGE THERAPIST
Ian Darby, from Llanelli, started his massage therapy business in 2019.
In March 2020, he was left with no choice but to find other work after having to pack up his massage table.
“Because I’d only been working a year, I hadn’t put a tax return in before the lockdown, therefore I wasn’t eligible for any support. So I had to get another job.
“At the beginning of lockdown I still had to pay rent for the massage room even though I wasn’t using it, luckily that’s stopped.”
Ian hopes that his business will be allowed to reopen in April.
While the UK Government has published advice on its website about the support and grants available to small businesses, Rebecca believes a different approach is needed.
She said: “I do feel the government should be looking longer term at supporting people instead of little, short fits of it and then leaving people to worry before another short fit of support.
“We definitely need better information around the grants and sources of support available.”