Coronavirus: Traders travel to the customers as footfall flags

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Sam Hugh, owner and head chef at La Perle

ACROSS the New Forest and Christchurch, businesses have introduced ways to help people not able to get out to the shops, or having trouble finding goods when they do.

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Local restaurants and hotels have rallied around to provide their own form of meals on wheels.

In Milford, for example, La Perle, the Lazy Lion, Verveine and Ray’s Kitchen have all launched a delivery service.

The owner and head chef at La Perle, Sam Hugh, said: “In the last two weeks we have seen our footfall reduce by about 75%. I knew we had to do something decisive so I thought if our customers can’t come to us we will have to take the food to them.

“As a small family-run restaurant we run month to month and don’t have the savings to absorb this kind of crisis. I also feel a huge responsibility to my three full-time staff and other part-time employees.”

He continued: “We had a meeting on the weekend and agreed that our roles will have to change and we will need to adapt – my two front-of-house staff will now be taking orders, packaging food and even doing the deliveries.

“I have a really great team of staff and I desperately want to keep them in work – my biggest hope is that we can do this until we reach a point where things can return to normal again.

“It is such a fast-moving situation and at the moment we still have lots of bookings for Mother’s Day but there is no way of knowing what the situation will be by the end of the week.”

Virtually every restaurant and pub in Lymington are also offering deliveries of food – the Borough Arms and Rivaaz Indian restaurant are offering drive-thru collection services.

In Barton the Cliff House are also doing the same, as is the Three Tuns in Bransgore. In Brockenhurst Rosie Lea’s Tea House and Bakery is doing a takeaway and delivery service while the Naked Pantry in New Milton say they will take goods to customers.

In Highcliffe Chris Watson butchers are opening extra hours and also offering deliveries, as are the butchers in Sway.

Staff at Shelleys Bakery in Highcliffe have been working all night to provide more bread as demand outstrips supply, while PMJ’s hardware store in the village is offering deliveries of vital household products.

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