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Watford’s first day back at business with town’s high streets welcoming back visitors!

After a three and a half month period of closure, the town centre and Watford’s other diverse shopping and retail areas threw open their doors to the public today (12 April 2021).

With Watford’s shops, hairdressers, gyms, pub beer gardens and pavement cafes reopened, eager customers were able to get their much-needed haircuts and quench their thirst at local pubs. Footfall across all retail destinations in the UK was up 101% by midday compared to a week earlier, according to the most recent figures from Springboard.

In local high streets, the mood was positive, with traders and visitors making the most of the easing of coronavirus restrictions, as the country takes the next significant step on its journey out of a third national lockdown.

Francomario Malanga, Manager of L’Artista Pizzeria Watford said: “Having operated in Watford for over 20 years, our regular customers have almost become family to us and we can’t wait to see them all again today! We have plenty of outdoor seating and to say thank you to the town’s continued support, we are offering discounts off total bills via the outdoor seating area and collection. Remember to help local businesses and shop local!”

Jamie Kelly, Manager at Underground Tattoos said: “During lockdown we were able to sketch some incredible designs, so it’s great to be back, see our customers and finally start tattooing again. It’s great to see many of the fellow businesses on Market Street opening up as well!”

Mario, Michelle and Page, Owners at d20 Board Game Café said: "We're so happy to be able to welcome our customers back to shop with us as we've really missed our local regulars! We are also really excited to be able to open our play space in May."

Leila Simpson from the LP Café said: “It is so wonderful to be back, the local support during all lockdowns has been amazing, and it’s such a pleasure to open our doors to the community again! We are looking forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones.”

Ansu Shah, owner from Situls Gifts said: “We are happy to be able to open our doors again for our regular customers that have been waiting eagerly, as well as new customers who will definitely find something they like here! Today it’s been good to see everyone adhering to the rules, wearing masks and queuing.”

To continue to support local businesses, a borough-wide campaign ‘Welcome Back Watford’ led by Watford BID and Watford Borough Council, will showcase all that Watford’s vibrant town centre has to offer and reassure people about the Covid safety measures in place to protect them.

This includes using £85,636 from the Welcome Back Fund to boost the return to the High Street, promoting ‘Shop Local, Shop Watford’, supporting businesses through the Restart Grants Scheme, organising town centre entertainment and improvements to key retail locations: Market Street, Queens Road St Albans Road and Watford Market.

To ensure that social distancing, face covering and hand-washing guidelines are followed, Covid stewards are continuing to offer extra support to residents, visitors and businesses in the town centre and hand sanitising stations are available. To find out more on Shop Local Shop Watford, please visit visitwatford.com/visit/shop-local