INDEPENDENT businesses across Oxford are racing to work out how they can survive the third national lockdown.

Under the new restrictions, all non-essential businesses, including retail and leisure sites, must close.

Pubs and restaurants can only open for take-out and delivery services.

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Julie Kleeman, who owns the new restaurant Taste Tibet on Magdalen Road with her husband Yeshi Jamp, said the biggest ‘challenge’ during this lockdown would be trying to run the take-out service alongside caring for their two primary school-aged children.

The couple have decided to stay open for takeaway on Fridays and Saturdays and will be offering delivery of chilled and frozen foods on Thursdays.

Ms Kleeman said: “The lockdown did not come as a surprise at all to us, but it still doesn’t feel great.

“We are quite fortunate in this situation because we do not have just one way of working, although it’s sad not to open in the fullest way.

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“The plan is to keep adapting as situations change."

She added: “Nobody wanted to be back in this situation, but it is with a mixture of good fortune and good planning that we are able to keep operating when mostly everything around us has shut down.

“We understand what our customers want – I hope we will be okay.”

Other businesses around the city are unsure whether they will be able to open over the lockdown period.

Viral Amin and his wife Shelly Lamba opened a new coffee shop in the Golden Cross in October and are unsure how long they will be able to afford to stay open for takeaway during this lockdown.

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Mr Amin said: “We are open for takeaway – as a new business we can’t really afford to close – but today has been one of our worst days, customers-wise.

“We do not know how long we can go on for.

“We will assess it week by week; it is hard to say right now.”

Graham MacDonald, who owns iScream gelateria and Wicked Chocolate in the Covered Market, also said he is unsure when the stores will reopen.

Mr MacDonald said: “We have our two businesses, the ice cream shop and the chocolate shop. The difficulty is that, under the Government’s regulations, we count as a ‘food shop’: whether we would regard ourselves as ‘essential’, however, is a different question.

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“January is usually a quiet month for us because everyone is on a sugar-free diet or a vegan diet.

“We would normally close for the first two weeks of January because of that reason and because we usually have a very busy run-up to Christmas particularly at the chocolate shop.”

But Mr MacDonald said he felt that the shop had a ‘social conscience like everyone else’ that needed to be considered.

He added: “We want to stay open for our regulars but we are not even sure our regulars would stay out.

“In theory people shouldn’t be out, coming into Oxford unless they live in Oxford and they’re exercising.

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“We will still be doing our online delivery service either by ourselves or through Bonners or Pedal and Post.”

Bonner’s Fruit and Vegetable shop, also in the Covered Market, is hoping the market will be allowed to stay open despite the lockdown.

Business owner Gordon Piggott said: “Our suppliers are fine and so we won’t have any problem getting fresh produce here, we are doing home deliveries still, so even with lockdown we can get to people.

“We do not know what is happening with the market thought and we are still waiting to hear. We are now in limbo.

“Fingers crossed it will stay open for the public again, as it’s important for people who live alone to be able to get out and speak to people, and the environment in the Covered Market is like being outside so it is safer than supermarkets.”

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