People in the north-east can get a haircut, click and collect shopping is allowed and garden centres can welcome back customers as a raft of Covid-19 restrictions are lifted today.
It comes after the stay-at-home order was lifted across Scotland allowing people to travel locally for non-essential purposes.
Other measures lifted include the resumption of in-person teaching, and outdoor sport can also resume for 12-to-17-year-olds.
Sovereign Barbers, which is based on Aberdeen’s Union Street, has had more than 700 bookings this month alone with customers keen to get their first professional haircut this year.
Kyle Ross, managing director of Sovereign Grooming, said they “can’t wait” to get back to cutting hair and he also laid out the coronavirus safety measures they will take.
He said: “We can’t wait to get back to work and we’ve had over 700 bookings for April, which is a new record for us.
“We’re well prepared for reopening, having been through the drill last July after the first lockdown. This time, we also have the benefit of new booking technology which checks in with clients before their appointment to make sure they’re not displaying any symptoms.
“We have undertaken a thorough review of our salon and are in the process of rearranging the salon space to adhere to social distancing guidelines, including the erection of clear screens between the stations.
“Every surface will be cleaned regularly and wiped with the appropriate sanitiser between appointments and all our staff have been trained to care for our customers in a safe, hygienic and professional manner and have undertaken enhanced Covid-19 hygiene training.
“Our teams will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) on the salon floor and, as always, will wash their hands before and after every appointment. Where possible, PPE, will be replaced after each appointment.
“We have reviewed the services we offer and will be removing those which we feel are too difficult to deliver safely under the current restrictions. This means that many of the male image treatments we offer will be temporarily suspended, including beard services.”
Retailers such as garden centres, key cutting shops, baby equipment stores, homeware shops and vehicle showrooms can welcome back customers as well.
The Ben Reid garden centre in Aberdeen found it difficult during lockdown as they had furloughed some staff.
The Countesswells Road retailer received government support last year and hopes for more financial support this year.
It launched an online ordering and collection system which enabled them to take in 30% of its normal turnover during lockdown.
They closed the webshop and collection service on Thursday as they prepared the garden centre for opening.
Simon Fraser, the centre’s managing director, said he is looking forward to having people back.
Mr Fraser said: “We are looking forward to just getting the customers back in the garden centre.
“A garden centre without the customers is a pretty lonely place.
“It’s very hard to sell plants without physically seeing them, you know, how big they are, how wide they are, what colour they are.
“And that’s what the customer wants to see, so we’re just excited to get the whole team back on board and get the garden centre full of customers again.”
The centre worked with trade associations and “all relevant bodies” to create a good protocol ahead of the store’s opening.
They have set up systems inside and outside the shop to maintain a Covid-secure shopping experience for their customers.
Simon added: “We are limited to 25 cars in the car park and we’ve got areas that we can queue the cars and that means it keeps the numbers very much in control.
“There is plenty room for two-metre distancing and, we’ve got screens on the tills, we’ve got sanitising stations and one-way systems.
“We are very confident that we’ve got a safe environment for people to come in.”
Foxlane Garden Centre is a family-run business based in Westhill that has been serving its north-east customers for 30 years.
Managing director Gordon Henderson hopes green-fingered customers will return to the centre to help their gardens get ready for the summer.
He said: “It’s a very hectic time of year. We grow all our plants here.
“I’m moving trays and potting out to the polytunnels.
“The way things were going last year everyone was doing up their lawns and planting tatties.
“I think a lot of people have got the gardening bug.
“It will just be good seeing folk in again.
“Compost, pots, seeds sales they’ve all been affected but hopefully everybody is ready to come in again soon.
“It would have been nice to be open in March. March is when everything starts, getting seeds on the go, compost and planting potatoes.
“I don’t want to get into the negative side, I’m just looking forward to getting open again.
“So I’m feeling quite positive about things. We’re about three weeks behind but in April we can get going again. We’ll just have to see.
“But everybody is having to stay at home this summer so it looks like everyone will be doing their garden again.
“So hopefully things will be fine.”
Although some face-to-face teaching can resume, Aberdeen University, Robert Gordon University and North East College Scotland (Nescol) will opt for a largely remote classroom set up.
Aberdeen University said classes for undergraduate students for the rest of the term will be carried out online although some postgraduate students will be able to return to campus in the summer.
A university spokesman said: “Classes for undergraduate students will remain online for the rest of the semester, however, the easing of restrictions mean that some postgraduate students will be able to return to campus for teaching over the summer.
“Planning around this is ongoing and those students who will have the opportunity to return for in-person teaching will be contacted in the coming weeks.”
Robert Gordon University said it was taking a similar approach despite the easing of restrictions by the Scottish Government.
A spokesman said only “limited” activity would take place at their Garthdee campus with all other teaching and classes being online.
He said: “While the Scottish Government restrictions around face-to-face teaching at universities will be slightly relaxed from Monday, April 5, we decided a number of weeks ago that for the rest of the semester, the vast majority of teaching will continue to be delivered online.
“This decision was made to provide some certainty to both students and staff to enable them to plan their activities in the face of an uncertain external environment.
“A very limited amount of on-campus activity will still take place, but only in areas where physical access is critical for teaching and assessment to allow students to progress and graduate. All other activities will take place exclusively online.”
Nescol said that when its students return from their Easter break on April 12 they will continue with remote learning and they will be at the college campuses if required.
College principal Neil Cowie said: “When college resumes on April 12 after the Easter break, guidance will allow for numbers to increase – but it is important to stress that access to campus will continue to be limited.
“Many students have a substantial amount of practical work to undertake and our planning takes this into account. Priority will be given to courses that require practical activity and reflect the groups identified by Colleges Scotland as a result of sector-wide discussions nationally.
“The resumption of face-to-face teaching on March 15 represented a very positive step forward and the ability to deliver more on-campus activity is very welcome as we guide our students through the college year.”