ALL businesses have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak…some have had to temporarily shut down, others have had to change trading methods to survive and a lucky few experienced unprecedented high demand.

Three business owners in Dedham have spoken about the pandemic has affected their trading, how they are coping now and how they see the future.

Paul Milsom, owner of five properties, including Milsoms Hotel and the Maison Talbooth, in Stratford Road, Dedham, was forced to close his properties when social distancing measures were introduced.

He said: “We were first into it and we will be last out of it. The Government has done the right thing to support businesses and we had a lot of help through the furlough system.

“There will be more problems when we will be told we can come back, and the question is how they will be easing restrictions. With the type of social distancing plans the Government seems to be talking about at the moment, it’s going to be difficult to operate business successfully.

“The danger is we will be asked to operate and we will make a loss.”

Mr Milsom said all his 350 employees were paid until April and then furloughed.

He said the business is currently “hibernating”.

“I believe it’s going to be more expensive to open it again than to leave it closed,” he added.

“We want to get back as soon as possible, but only when it’s safe to operate it.”

Jimmy Lane, 52, owner of the Birchwood Farm Shop, in Birchwood Road, Dedham, decided to close the shop to make it safe for both customers and staff members.

But to adapt to the current situation he started doing vegetable and fruit box deliveries to save the business.

Ellie Steele, 26, shop manager, said: “We had to adapt to do something different.

“The first few weeks were really busy, but orders have now gone down to a manageable size. The community has been very supportive of us.”

Cathie Stratton, 49, Ellie’s mum, has volunteered to help the business by taking the delivery orders.

Mrs Stratton said they are hoping to open the shop soon, and they will carry on doing home deliveries to vulnerable people.

“We are just doing our bit for the community as they supported the business well,” she added.

On the other hand, owner of the Dedham pharmacy, in High Street, Dedham, said in the first three weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, they experienced an unprecedented high demand.

Owner Mandeep Sandhu, 39, said there was a lack of guidance from Government bodies.

He said: “There was a level of panic buying, which caused problems with prescriptions. A lot of people panicked and wanted to get their medicine in time, but that had a negative effect on the supply chain, so there was a point when we were out of stock.

“Our workload considerably increased, we were putting in a few extra hours every day, to look after our customers.”

He said he has been fortunate he doesn’t have to worry about his business and its future.

Mr Sandhu added: “We’re almost attached to the NHS so we’ve almost been protected.

“We haven’t been a retail or leisure facility, where you were told to shut down.”

“I’ve seen friends and family, who have been affected and I can see why they need to get back to work.”