Like many independent cookshops, staff members at Prep in Stoke Newington, North London are continuing to wear face coverings for protection. Moreover, fellow independent businesses in Stoke Newington’s Church Street have agreed to wear masks as a safety measure, at least until their staff members are all double vaccinated.
“We also decided that we would still ask customers to wear a mask if they felt happy to do so, and that having a united front across the street would hopefully make this more palatable,” states owner Holly Wilson.
She reflects: “I have to say that everyone is still wearing a mask without asking. It has become the norm and as much as I hate it – it is hard being in the shop all day wearing one – I still feel uncomfortable not wearing one in public places. It seems I’m not the only one!”
The street’s united front comes as many shop workers feel vulnerable following the easing of legal restrictions in England last week (July 19). Holly acknowledges: “Younger staff are not yet vaccinated or only have one vaccine and are now being asked to work all day in a small space with customers who do not have to wear masks.”
During the pandemic, she recognises that: “Most of our customers throughout have been happy or at least agreed to wear masks without too much protest.” However, Holly also reflects: “We have had our share of customers who are unhappy and want to make their thoughts on the subject very clear. This was ok when we were protected by law and people had to wear one; we were within our rights to demand a face mask or deny service. But now, we are left to make these decisions for ourselves and suffer the consequences.”
* Holly Wilson’s From the frontline will appear in the next issue of Progressive Housewares magazine.
Top: Holly Wilson, owner of Prep Cookshop and Richard Dare in North London.