AS THE nation anticipates the prime minister's announcement this evening, residents are expecting to hear of a plan to reduce Coronavirus restrictions.

Prior to Boris Johnson's announcement, we spoke to business owners across Berkshire on their concerns and expectations over the uncertain news.

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Stephen Burns, CEO of the Hollywood Bowl Group, which has a site in Bracknell, said: “We are urging the government to reopen ten-pin bowling as early as possible.

"We have shown that we can operate safely in our spacious centres, which are well suited to single household groups and have invested heavily in our Covid-secure measures.

"Indoor leisure was one of the last sectors to reopen and has suffered extensive loss of income as a result.

"The data shows that we can operate safely and we are ready to reopen and looking forward to welcoming our customers back.”

Hollywood Bowl, Bracknell

Hollywood Bowl, Bracknell

A spokesman for Berkshire Vapers LTD, which has stores in Earley, Winnersh, and Caversham, said: "I think it's a big unknown - I don't know how it's going to affect business at the moment.

"As soon as the lockdown's eased and we can open again all the staff costs and overheads increase dramatically, but we don't know how quickly the customers will come back.

"The costs will soar and the revenue wont soar as quickly - we will have to see what happens with the customers.

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"If they've got decent Covid restrictions in place, and they're not allowing too many people into any one shop in one go, I think it will work well alongside the procedures that were already in place.

"It can work, but it's going to take a while to get back to where we were."

Berkshire Vapers LTD, Winnersh

Berkshire Vapers LTD, Winnersh

Max Meiklejohn, a local personal trainer and owner of Meiklejohn Fitness, based in Reading, said: "It can't be any worse than it already is with current climate.

"I've not had much work with the bad weather - I think they need to start opening things up again.

"I don't think anyone's going to be financially stable once it's all out."

Mr Meiklejohn said that he would hope the government could provide more relief for independent businesses.

He added: "I know companies and smaller gyms are shutting down left right and centre, because there's no relief.

"People are still paying rent on properties that can't earn any money anymore. It's a lose-lose situation."

DVSA Driving Test Centre, Reading

DVSA Driving Test Centre, Reading

Chris Tassano, committee member of the Berkshire Driving Instructors, as well as a driving instructor working across the Reading and Wokingham areas, said: "It feels like Groundhog day.

"I'm still going to be doing this for a while, not working for another month or so. I'm keeping myself as busy as I can personally, but I'm just being patient.

"When I get back to work, I can see there being a bit of a mess [in terms of] working out the who, where, and when of learning.

"I think it could put people off learning to drive - there could be a big 17-year-old gap of people taking their test, because they will be at university by then.

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"I know driving instructors have quit, and there are no new instructors coming in because they haven't been able to train and become qualified.

"There is a high demand [for instructors] and less supply. People can also expect price rises."

Mr Tassano added the committee is having a meeting with the test centre manager next week, and will decide on further developments then.

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