Pub and shop staff: 'Please be nice to us this weekend'

By Sam Gruet
Newsbeat reporter

Published
image copyrightGetty Images

"It's going to be a couple of manic days."

That's what Primark worker Hannah is expecting as pubs, shops and restaurants in England gear up for their first weekend since restrictions were eased.

While you might be keen for a rummage through the clothes rack or a pint in a pub garden, spare a thought for the people serving you.

"Just try and be kind to all the workers," says Hannah.

'You just want to cry'

She had her first shift back on Tuesday. And, well, it was "chaos".

We've given her a different name because she didn't want to get in trouble with her bosses.

"Before the store reopened, we were going round making sure everything looked perfect," she says.

"The state of the store after, it looked like there was a war in there. You just want to cry."

She's hoping this weekend, her customers will be less "blunt" and "rude".

The men's section - according to Hannah - was the worst. And the chaos meant some staff stayed until midnight tidying up, three hours after the store closed.

This weekend, she wants customers to treat the store "how you would treat your own home".

image copyrightBecki Whiting
image captionBecki doesn't expect to get much rest this weekend

Becki is working back-to-back 11-hour shifts in a pub in Birmingham over the weekend.

The 23-year-old is "dreading it".

"I did a seven-hour shift yesterday and my feet were burning and I started getting dizzy towards the end."

"It was absolute mayhem".

"Think nightclub on a Saturday night - that's how the pub has been on a Wednesday afternoon."

'Just be patient with us'

Before the pandemic she was regularly working behind the bar for eight hours at a time.

"It would be water off a duck's back," she says. But all that time not working has had an impact.

"During lockdown, I've gained a bit of weight… and it's just so much harder now."

There are also new rules to enforce.

Remembering what we are and aren't allowed to do isn't easy - but Becki says people have been pushing their luck when challenged.

"They say things like, 'I've already had it' and, 'What's the point?'"

"At the end of the day, we're all in it together. None of us want to get ill and get Covid and pass it on to our families."

"Just be patient with us. It's new to us as much as it's new to you."

image copyrightJan Spencer
image captionJan can't wait to see her clients

'I nearly quit'

For 25-year-old Jan, the easing of lockdown in England is like "Christmas".

The Manchester-based barber says one of her customers drove 90 minutes for a haircut.

"He baked me a tonne of brownies and give me a massive tip."

She won't be dreading this weekend like Hannah and Becki - but things haven't been easy.

"It does really affect you mentally because you go from seeing over 200 people a week to seeing nobody," she says. "It's been quite tough".

At one point, she even considered quitting as a barber and looking for another job.

"Because there wasn't much support, I felt like it was a waste of time. I didn't even know if we'd even have a shop to go back to because lockdown was that bad."

Opening the doors again has changed all that and Jan's now feeling much more positive - especially with a bumper weekend of clients.

"It's like I've never been away."

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