In pictures: Cambridge streets busy once more as shops and pubs reopen
The streets of Cambridge thronged with shoppers once more on Monday (April 12) as national Covid restrictions were eased.
With non-essential retail outlets, pub gardens, al fresco restaurants and gyms reopening amid sunny weather, the crowds were quick to respond.
At the Grand Arcade, staff welcomed a steady flow of shoppers. Marketing manager Julie Kervadec said: “People have been constantly coming in, but were being very respectful of the rules.
"We’ve kept our one-way system in place and we’ve refreshed some of our signage to make sure everybody feels comfortable coming back.
“We still have social distancing signage and we remind people that they have to wear a face covering on site. From what we’ve observed so far, people are being respectful.
“It’s been a happy atmosphere of people wanting to go out again. All of our shops have been getting ready behind the scenes. They’re very happy to be here again.”
John Lewis – which has closed eight stores nationwide, but is keeping its Cambridge store open – has a temporary showroom set up next to the store’s main entrance on St Andrew’s Street.
“We’re very happy that they remain open, of course,” said Julie, “and we’ve been working with their team to promote a new range of home-styling products they’ve just launched, called ANYDAY.
"They’re using one of our empty units for six weeks to showcase this new product launch.”
All the centre’s shops reopened on Monday, with the exception of Ed’s Diner as it is an indoor restaurant, and the Kuoni travel agency, both of which will reopen in May. Carluccio’s has an outdoor terrace at the back of the Grand Arcade which is open now.
At The Grafton, centre manager John O’Shea said: “We’re thrilled for The Grafton to be back and fully open again. Our reopening day on April 12 went even better than we had hoped for, with footfall exceeding our estimates by around 15 per cent.
“We were blessed with good weather, as well as many families enjoying their Easter holidays with us due to teacher training days. We saw many customers who had also taken the day off for some much-needed retail therapy.
"It was incredible to see everyone again all under one roof.”
He added: “Our centre management team have taken every precaution to ensure the safety of staff and customers. We’re continuing with regular cleaning and hygiene measures, asking customers to wear face coverings when visiting the centre and adhere to physical distancing.”
But it wasn’t just retail therapy on offer. Gyms in the city also reopened, including YMCA Fitness in Gonville Place.
Julie Martin, the gym’s health & wellbeing manager, said: “It was lovely to see people back. We had a couple of people queuing up at the door first thing in the morning and we did have quite a few people come through.
“We had about 18 people through from eight till lunchtime, and then it was quieter with just the odd two or three, and then more people in again later.” The gym plans to start up its classes again in May.
Ian Sandison, chief executive of Cambridge BID, said on Monday: “It’s been an excellent day in Cambridge, I think. Great weather, lots of crowds out enjoying the sunshine, outside dining going very well across the whole city and not too many queues. I think it’s been a very good start.
“I talked to four or five big retailers and they had a very good morning, and the afternoon was looking busy as well. I think the weather’s helped and not all the schools went back on Monday, so lots of families were in the city.”
The appetite for a meal out seemed strong too. Roberto Pintus, general manager at The Varsity Hotel & Spa, said: “It is a hugely successful first day back on our iconic roof terrace, with the British public clearly keen to enjoy a drink after months of lockdown.
“Our terrace is nice and busy and, if trade on Monday, April 12, is a sign of things to come, then we should be in for a great year of business in 2021.”
Sally Champion, at the Lion & Lamb pub in Milton, said it was “wonderful” to be open again. She was buoyed by the “fabulous atmosphere”, “beautiful sunshine” and “lots of lovely people”, concluding: “It couldn’t have been better, really.
"Hopefully, the road to recovery starts here.”