There are signs of returning confidence in life beyond lockdown, as businesses begin to make tentative arrangements to get back to serving their customers.
Long queues of cars greeted the first re-opening of takeaway restaurants in Stornoway and there has been a similar positive response as some cafes also begin to offer hot drinks and snacks to take away.
Printing work from Stornoway Media Centre
The Good Food Boutique in Stornoway, which has been operating on restricted hours and restricted customer numbers throughout lockdown, has today (Wednesday 20 May) re-opened their antipasti delicatessen counter on a trial basis. Last week they extended their opening hours.
In Barra, café owner Sharon Penney has consulted environmental health officials before setting a reopening of the Ardmhor coffee shop for this coming Sunday (24 May).
The former manager of Barra Airport café is to sell her popular Italian-style coffee under strict conditions. She’s not able to fill or serve from reusable cups but will be using compostable Vegware takeaway cups and lids for minimum environmental impact.
Sharon said: “Our coffee is freshly ground for each cup using a beautiful blend of finest African and Brazilian beans from our Edinburgh suppliers – we can’t wait to be serving you all again!”
Some staff are also returning to work at the Fishermen’s Co-op in Stornoway, where opening hours have been extended this week, with the hope of a return to even more extensive service once Scottish Government guidance has been updated.
The first pour of candles since lockdown (Essence of Harris)
In Harris, the week started on a happy note for Essence of Harris, who had switched into emergency gear early in the lockdown with production of hand sanitiser for keyworkers and carers.
Business owner Jamie McGowan announced the return to work of Nicola from their management team on Monday (18 May), after she had been furloughed for several weeks. She followed production colleague Zoe, who returned to work from furlough last week, when the company highlight was completing their first candle pour since lockdown began.
Jamie said: “Over the last couple of months our reduced team have been working with stock they had built up previously, but we’ve been able to look forward and prepare for what lies ahead. We really must thank customers who have continued to support us through this difficult time.
“Our morning meeting looked a little different via Zoom but we’re delighted to have the management team all working together again as we plan for the months ahead.”
Also back from furlough are staff at Stornoway publishers Acair, who are returning to work at their office at An Tosgan on Seaforth Road on staggered days to maintain social distance.
Behind the scenes, some home-working has continued through lockdown, meaning the launch yesterday (Tuesday 19 May) of a new title for the publishers (available at https://www.acairbooks.com/categories/non-fiction-titles/all-non-fiction/flashes-of-memory.aspx)
Flashes of Memory, by Mary Gillanders, is a memoir of growing up among the Clyde lighthouses in the mid 20th-century. It’s described as: “a charmingly evocative account of a world governed by devotion to duty, the demands of the weather and the absolute imperative of keeping the light turning."