The owner of a soft play centre in Cheltenham cried when he reopened this week for the first time in five months.
Richard Oates is the owner of The Play Farm in The Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham which closed its doors on Saturday, March 21 amid the pandemic.
But after the government’s announcement that restrictions on soft play areas would be easing, the business owner decided to reopen on Monday, August 24.
However after a ‘difficult five months’ Richard explains that the business still faces an ‘unpredictable future,’ especially as the soft play has reopened with a massively reduced capacity of 60 instead of 200 which means the business will be making a loss until capacity is increased.
Richard said: “We face a very uncertain future, it’s been a difficult five months. We’ve made the decision to open despite facing an unpredictable future. I cried as people walked back through the door.”
He went on to say: “I fear permanent closure every day but the hope is we’ll be allowed more capacity. We owe it to the kids of Cheltenham to open.”
Lockdown was a massive setback for the company which had benefited from £30,000 of investment for a new level and extra slides.
The Play Farm was one of several Cheltenham Brewery Quarter businesses which were forced to close in March including The Real China, Cineworld Cinema and its Starbucks concession and Urban Outfitters.
BALPPA which represents over 180 indoor play centres conducted a survey at the start of July which predicted two thirds would face closure by the end of October without further government support with members already reporting job losses in the sector.