Following the confirmation of a further national lockdown this week, many business owners in the region have been left pondering what the right steps will be to maintain trade and keep people safe.

For Gerard Richardson, owner of fine wine merchants and coffee roasters Richardson's of Whitehaven, he is thankful the previous lockdown enabled him to equip the business for a ‘new normal’.

“During the first lockdown we were not equipped for the high street closing. We didn’t have a website. Now we are able to take orders online.

“We’re relying on people going on the web and ordering online before popping in to collect or for getting delivery. We’d avoided going on the web until this year as we wanted to be a local shop. We’ve pushed the business in the local area and locals have used the web. That’s helped us retain that local feeling.”

He is now encouraging locals to support independent traders as much as they can.

“While we must control the virus, if you can operate your business safely, we have a duty to do so.

“There are plenty of business like pubs and restaurants that can’t open so it’s up to the rest of us to try and keep the wheels on the road.

He added: “If you look around our region and count up the independent shops, we must employ over 600 staff at least. Where are jobs going to come from if we lose these shops?

“If people can afford it, by buying local you are retaining local jobs.”

Likewise, Joanne Duddey of Workington florists The Flower Basket offered further insight into how difficult current circumstance were for those selling perishable goods such as flowers.

“We’re dealing with perishable goods so if our goods don’t sell, they end up in the bin. It’s a gamble whenever you buy anything fresh! We’re just taking things week by week and seeing what happens really.

She also extended her gratitude for the support they have received over this period.

“We have been busy during this period and people really are doing their best to support local businesses.

“We’ll keep going as long as we can. We’re all just trying to stick together and hopefully we’ll get through it. It’s very worrying, we’re trying to keep going. We’re here for people. We have click and collect, fresh flower deliveries also. January is a quiet month anyway so it’s tricky all round.

“In the long-term it’s hopefully the right thing to do. It’s tricky as I don’t want to put my staff or the public at risk. “

Lara Schwab of gift shop Little Whims is remaining positive.“We’re doing the best thing for the NHS right now and that’s what we have to prioritise," she said.