Buzz back in Oswestry as awkward interactions are the latest new normal

Bustling is not a word that has been used much for the last 15 months. But Oswestry was definitely bustling on market day this week.

Gareth and Tegwen Jones and David and Sondra Rowlands in Oswestry for market day
Gareth and Tegwen Jones and David and Sondra Rowlands in Oswestry for market day

Car parks were full, the town's streets were busy and traders were doing a brisk trade. More than anything there was a buzz about the place, people eager to stop and chat to those they might not have seen for maybe the whole of lockdown. The happiness of a 'new normal' was infectious.

But it is very much a new normal with shoppers doing that strange to-and-fro dance, not knowing how much room to give those coming in the opposite direction on pavements and that awkward moment when friends start to go in for the hug or handshake and then step back.

And while those shopping on Oswestry's market were very obviously pleased to see the town business, there was just a little anxiety.

Pensioners, Gareth and Tegwen Jones were delighted to bump into friends David and Sondra Rowlands but former mayor Gareth said it was still too early for people to drop their guard.

Laura Ball and Irina Chesters at the Yellow Bicycle Cake Company

He and his wife kept their masks on, although they were outdoors, and said it was be a long time before the real normal would return.

"I think we are in for the long haul," he said. "This virus is going to be with us for a long time and people need to be aware of that. I am not sure I would to go on our usual coach holiday this year for instance. I don't think I would feel comfortable."

Tegwen said it was lovely to see more people out and about in the town. "But if people do get too close then it does feel uncomfortable," she said.

The four were discussing the Oswestry Senior Citizens club closed all through lockdown and looking forward to activities returning. "The first thing we will need to do is go in and clean the building and ensure it is Covid safe," David said.

Heather and John Bickerton were happy to see people in Oswestry again
Sandra Edge had customers to serve at Jeanies Catering

Like Gareth, Heather Bickerton, is a former mayor of Oswestry. She and husband, John, said they were not worried at all about the virus.

Heather, who has health problems, said: "If everyone does what they are supposed to do then it will be alright. And it is good to see a buzz in the town."

"I have my mask with me for when I have to put it on and I will continue to follow the rules. But I'm not wearing it outside," John said.

Allan Stokes hopes rules are adhered to so businesses can reopen safely

While Allan Stokes is relaxed about his safety and the way people in Oswestry have generally followed lockdown rules, he is worried for his and other businesses.

Stokes Funfair has not been out and about for about 18 months and he says the next unlocking of restrictions that will allow him to be up and running depends, heavily on how people behave.

"If people don't stick to the rules and this Indian variant gets out of control then we wont be able to start operating again," he said.

"I'm not worried for myself, I am fit and active, but I do worry for the business and for other businesses that are depending on June 21 and the unlocking for more restrictions.

"I think all the scaremongering about the variant is being done to make sure that everyone has the vaccine. I cannot understand why they don't."

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