Shopkeepers and customers celebrate as Romford high streets reopen
- Credit: Ken Mears
Shoppers swarmed to Romford's high streets yesterday (April 12) as non-essential shops, hairdressers and outdoor hospitality venues were allowed to open after the country's third lockdown.
Having a drink outside The Lamb pub, Barry Couch was very pleased to be back in his regular.
He said: “My pint tastes absolutely beautiful.
“It’s nice to see Romford back as it should be, with some sense of normality."
Anne McMurtary, who manages the high street’s new retro and vintage Saint Francis Hospice charity shop, was thrilled to start selling the shops’ donations.
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She said: “It’s very exciting, it feels great.
“We’ve had a queue already and it’s brilliant to be able to sell all these lovely things we’ve had donated.
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“It’s great to finally show it off.
“I hope people realise we’re here and have got lovely new things.
“The hospice lost a lot of money during lockdown, so it’s great that so many people are out supporting us already.”
By midday, Cafe Bueno predicted it had already served 100 customers eager to sit outside and enjoy their coffee.
Manager Rana Arif said: “It feels amazing.
“I wish I could have everyone inside as well, because rain will be a big factor, but so far so good.”
Customers Denise and Joyce, who preferred to only use their first names, had brought their own cups to the cafe and were delighted to be reunited.
66-year-old Denise said: “It almost feels like it’s back to normal, though it can be a bit daunting with so many people out.”
Zahida Hameed, manager of Time clothes shop, was also slightly apprehensive.
She explained: “It has been a long time since we have been back in, so I’m just trying to get to grips with it all.
“But obviously we’re happy to be back out again and get on with our lives.”
Standing in line outside Ali Barbers, brothers Daniel and Luke Chandler were not complaining about the hour’s queue to get their trim.
Daniel explained: “We’ve been waiting for the last few months, to be honest.”
Waiting outside Primark, Rebecca Laye and daughter Brooke, 10, also did not mind the queue.
Rebecca said: “It’s really exciting actually.
“It’s just a bit of normality.”
Behind them in the line, Martina McCarthy, her children Kayleigh and Thomas and her baby granddaughter Nora were looking forward to finally spending their Christmas vouchers.