WITH companies again instructing their staff to work from home, small food and drink businesses serving workers on business and industrial estates say they are struggling.

Caterers who have struggled through lockdown are again being plunged into uncertainty by efforts to prevent a second wave of coronavirus.

Matt Shihab, who owns The Brunch Box, a takeaway van on Abingdon’s Barton Lane Science Park, said business was ‘dead’.

He said: “It has really not been great business at the moment.

“It is dead – there are not a lot of people.

“One huge building only has six people coming in – one person each day of the week; that is it.

“It is going to be much worse now after the announcements on working from home again.

“We know people stop coming to work when there are more cases, and with cases at schools in Abingdon, people are staying at home.”

Paul Spring, owner of Spring Café on Osney Mead industrial estate off Botley Road in Oxford, said the return to working from home was ‘extremely disheartening’.

He said: “I came back to work in the café at the end of May and I was confident when I saw all those people going back to work. I thought it would be great.

“But then, depending on what the local news is and if there is a spike in Oxford, people have been staying away and working from home.

“This news has really put a dampener on all of this. We just have to follow the news and see what’s going to happen.”

Mr Spring added: “It is very difficult to make a living at the moment. It’s the same with taxi drivers and corner shops in the area. People aren’t coming to work and this affects all of these businesses. You don’t get a taxi from the station to work and you don’t go to the little shop to buy your lunch or get daily essentials.

“It is a bit disheartening, but I am determined not to be beaten.”

The Oxford Factory Canteen on Oxford Business Park in Cowley only opened last November.

At the time of opening the business park had over 5,000 people on site every day.

The self-described ‘high-end canteen’ was serving 200-300 people a day within weeks of opening, business partner Nick Hughes said.

He added: “Now we have been open again for four weeks.

“We have been ticking over, but there have not been many people back at the park.

“A lot businesses have told their staff that they do not have to come back.

“We have more people from the outside coming to visit us now. Anyone is welcome.”

Other businesses around Oxford, however, have not been as badly affected by the ‘work from home’ lifestyle.

James Armitage, owner of the Jericho Coffee Traders café on Osney Mead said his business selling coffee to drink in or take away, has had to adapt.

He said: “Yes, we were affected.

“Being based on an industrial estate, we rely on people going to work.

“Some people come to us as a destination, but most are workers from the industrial estate.

“We are usually open only Monday to Friday, as weekends are usually really quiet as no one works, but after lockdown we decided to start Saturday morning coffee and donut days and now Saturday is our busiest day.”