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Beauty salons, gyms and swimming pools reopening dates revealed - Kent business owners react

The owner of a Kent beauty salon is "absolutely ecstatic" after it was announced she can reopen her business on Monday.

This evening, the government revealed beauticians, tattooists, spas and tanning salons can welcome customers back from July 13, subject to some restrictions on services.

Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can also reopen, but from Saturday, July 25, and outdoors pools and theatres from this Saturday.

Kimberley Smith, owner of Purenique beauty salon in Hawkhurst, is "absolutely overwhelmed and excited" about the news, adding: "it's definitely the right decision to get us back as soon as possible."

Last week, the 33-year-old slammed the Prime Minister for "mocking" the industry during PMQs and not giving business owners an opening date to work towards.

At the time, she said: "I've already lost in excess of £40,000 and July is one of the busiest times for us so we could lose up to £15,000 just this month. We will be in jeopardy if this goes on any longer."

But now, Mrs Smith "can't wait to get going."

"We just need to go through the guidelines with a fine-toothed comb we can really get to grips with what we are and aren't allowed to do, so that we are opening completely safely," she said.

No facial treatments will be permitted at first, but Mrs Smith understands this decision.

"That was one of the main reasons the government didn't want us to open in the first place - because of the close contact with the face - and I understand it.

"Obviously for a lot of the industry that's their bread and butter, but for a lot of us there are other treatments we can do and to be honest, at this point, I'm just grateful they've allowed us to reopen even with strict guidelines - it's better than nothing."

Jay Atkins, owner of Core the Gym in Maidstone
Jay Atkins, owner of Core the Gym in Maidstone

But gym owner Jay Atkins isn't feeling quite as overjoyed.

The manager of Core the Gym in Maidstone is "positive" but fears "there are still so many unanswered questions".

The 45-year-old had expected gyms to given the go ahead to start up again at the same time as pubs and restaurants, and was "baffled and heartbroken" when they weren't.

He says despite the latest news being a "positive" step, he hoped the date was going to be Monday, July 20 at the latest.

"We have spent months preparing so this is a bit disappointing," he said.

"That being said, at least we are no longer in the dark - for so long we simply didn't have answers for our members and now at least we can tell them something."

Core has been redesigned to adhere to social distancing rules
Core has been redesigned to adhere to social distancing rules

He added: "But everything is still relatively vague and there are so many unanswered questions about how exactly we will operate. All the government has said so far is that there needs to be reduced class sizes and they anticipate a booking schedule."

Mr Atkins has already rearranged his premises to adhere to social distancing; completely redesigning the layout, setting up cleaning stations, buying antibacterial wipes and more.

He said: "We've managed to rearrange the entire space - it's been significant moving everything around, but we're able to assure there's a sensible, usable space between each piece of equipment, providing members with their safety."

The King Street gym owner will now spend the next two weeks making sure staff are fully trained so everything runs smoothly on reopening day.

"Ultimately, we want to get back to work, but the most important thing is people's safety," he said.

Mr Atkins plans for all staff to return and come off furlough, as "they love what they do and are desperate to get back to work."

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