A Covid timeline - how the pandemic unfolded across Great Yarmouth

A year of coronavirus in Great Yarmouth

As restrictions hit the one year mark we look back at some of the stories that made headlines including epic grass cutting, town hall food hub, early Christmas decorations, vaccinations, 49-mile marathons, and sky-painting entertainment. - Credit: Kris Hodgkyns, Melissa Powley, GYBC, Archant, Jodey Hopcroft, Tony Walsh

During 2020 there were numerous landmark moments and dates to do with coronavirus - from the first case, to the first death, to schools going back, restrictions being lifted, and it all happening again in the second wave - but worse.

Here we look back at how the pandemic unfolded in Great Yarmouth as we mark a year since restrictions and social distancing were introduced on March 16 and the subsequent lockdown announcement on March 23.

March 2020

Two music festivals due to be staged this month at Vauxhall Holiday Park are cancelled and a Brundall medical practice gets a deep clean after a suspected case, but early in the month the news is still dominated by other issues.

Things soon rack up though and by the middle of March JPUH is reporting three cases including a baby. Nationally it is reported more than 100 people have died. By the end of the month there are three deaths in Norfolk and 45 cases.

Yarmouth Mercury front page March 20, 2020

The Mercury front page from March 20, 2020. - Credit: Archant

As the Government delivers its 'Stay at Home' message with restrictions on social contact the focus is on the community pulling together to help the vulnerable with shopping, prescriptions and a friendly voice.

The Easter Fayre and Pirates Live are cancelled along with numerous Mothers' Day events.

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The volunteer spirit is praised and Britain is warned if faces weeks in lockdown.

April

Five deaths are now being reported at the JPUH.

Police are handed powers to enforce staying at home.

Non-essential businesses can apply for Government support grants and on Thursdays at 8pm we are clapping for carers and taping rainbows in our windows.

Toilet roll is at a premium with a pack of four being offered as a reward for a missing cockatiel called Oreo.

Shelia Oxtoby, the council's CEO, helping organise supplies for community foodbanks. PHOTO: GY Borou

Shelia Oxtoby, the council's CEO, helping organise supplies for community foodbanks. PHOTO: GY Borough Council - Credit: Archant

Town hall staff are redeployed as the building becomes a food distribution hub.

People are warned not to travel over Easter as police hand out 109 warnings.

Pictures show even the seagulls have deserted Great Yarmouth town centre.

Yarmouth Mercury front page April 2020

The Mercury front page from April 3, 2020. - Credit: Archant

The Festival of Bowls is cancelled in what would have been its 75th year. DIY giant B&Q reopens with social distancing leading to long queues.

May

More than 300 people are reported to have died with Covid in the county's three hospitals.

Police reveal they are being spat at or coughed on.

Gorleston restaurants SW1 and the Olive Garden are making and delivering food to NHS workers from a school kitchen.

Testing becomes available for keyworkers at the JPUH.

Kris Hodgkyns and his team of mowers cut the grass in the entire village of Belton as council cutting is suspended.

Kris Hodgyns and his team of mowers have won praise for their efforts mowing the whole village of Be

Kris Hodgyns and his team of mowers have won praise for their efforts mowing the whole village of Belton Picture: Kris Hodgkyns - Credit: Archant

Somerleyton Hall offers an "unreserved apology" after an ill-judged comment on social media about the impact of restrictions.

A care home disco drive-through at Burgh House lifts spirits, as does Margaret Seaman unveiling her knitted version of Nightingale Hospital.

Lockdown is loosened to allow travel for exercise and to meet one other person outdoors observing the 2m rule.

Yarmouth Mercury front page May 22, 2020

The Mercury front page from May 22, 2020. - Credit: Archant

Use of facemasks in enclosed spaces is advised. Everyone is looking ahead to June when schools then shops can reopen, and July 4 for attractions and hospitality.

June

We begin to see the first signs of recovery as the outdoor market reopens, horse racing returns without crowds, McDonalds drive-through and coastal car parks are available again.

It's all about "bubbles" as pupils go back to school, youngsters in Ormesby declaring it "the best day ever."

Pilot Tony Walsh entertains people on the ground with his sky-painting stunts and one man cleans hundreds of windows for free in Great Yarmouth.

Pilot Tony Walsh flying over Sea Palling. People have enjoyed seeing him loop-the-loop during lockdo

Pilot Tony Walsh flying over Sea Palling. People have enjoyed seeing him loop-the-loop during lockdown Picture: Tony Walsh - Credit: Archant

When the shops reopen it's a whole new world of sneeze screens and one-way systems.

Ist Caister scouts prove you  can have fun indoors with their online meetings.

Play areas in Mill Lane and Green Lane, Bradwell, and Station Road Ormesby are handed 48 hour dispersal orders after reports of large gatherings.

Gatherings of people from more than one household are limited to six people outdoors.

Yarmouth Mercury front page July 2020

Yarmouth Mercury front page from July 17, 2020. - Credit: Archant

Dental practices reopen.

Face coverings become compulsory on public transport.

Clap for carers ends.

July

Excitement builds for Super Saturday when pubs, cinemas, bars, and caravan parks reopen - although there is disappointment for those like the Hippodrome Circus looking to host live performances.

A cruise ship sheltering off the east coast draws attention with aerial pictures emerging of its empty decks.

Joining the tankers moored off Pakefield and Kessingland is cruise liner Cunard Queen Victoria. Pict

Joining the tankers moored off Pakefield and Kessingland is cruise liner Cunard Queen Victoria. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

Potters Resort in Hopton reopens with 50 restaurant suites.

The narrative shifts to the importance of the staycation and attendant message that locals have "nothing to fear" from tourists.

There are serious concerns that a one-way system in Gorleston High Street and a lack of parking is bringing business to its knees.

Mercury front page

Mercury front page from July 17, 2020. - Credit: Archant

The JPUH reports its last confirmed case on July 10, and  no  more thereafter. It says there were 122 Covid deaths during the pandemic, but 240 people recovered. The ban on visitors is lifted.

August

Lottery winners unable to travel abroad due to the pandemic choose to holiday in Yarmouth instead.

Paula and Andrew Hancock, along with their cat Shortcake, toast a year since they scooped a £1 milli

Paula and Andrew Hancock, along with their cat Shortcake, toast a year since they scooped a £1 million lottery scratchcard prize win, at The Pumping House in Ollerton, Nottinghamshire. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 4, 2020. The couple have been forced to trade in a world tour for campervan trips to Great Yarmouth and Harrogate due to the coronavirus lockdown. See PA story LOTTERY Cat. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Eight staff at Gorleston's William Adams Wetherspoon pub are isolating after a worker contracts the virus.

Parking is restored in Gorleston High Street, to the relief of traders.

Eat Out to Help Out is launched with some eateries misjudging demand and struggling to cope.

Yarmouth Mercury front page August

Mercury front page from August 28, 2020. - Credit: Archant

On August 15 the Hippodrome Circus is finally able to deliver its summer show.

There is upset then joy for some A level students initially downgraded by an algorithm and then given their teacher assessed grades following a Government U turn.

An outbreak at Banham Poultry sparks concerns over a hike in cases in Yarmouth, but the borough ends the month with an infection rate of one per 100,000.

September

Things go a bit quieter on the Covid front.

Children return to the classroom and there is the inevitable flurry of cases and bubbles sent home to isolate.

Seafront traders reflect on their summer declaring it "not a complete disaster or a roaring success." 

Nationally there is a hike in case numbers blamed on young people socialising - although many hit back saying they are often key workers and taking extra steps to prevent the spread.

Yarmouth Mercury front page September

Mercury front page from September 2020. - Credit: Archant

Many seafront businesses say they will open for longer while the fine weather lasts.

Eat Out to Help Out ends but some restaurants carry on with their own self-funded incentives.

A 10pm curfew for pubs comes in on September 24.

October

A new simplified three-tier system of Covid restrictions is introduced following confusion over local rules - but people in higher tier areas are advised not to travel to lower tier ones.

An outbreak at Bernard Matthews' Holton processing plant identifies cases in Great Yarmouth.

A surge of infections sees a high-profile intervention swing into action with leaflets handed out reminding people of the rules and how they can prevent another lockdown.

Yarmouth Mercury front page October 2020

Mercury front page from October 2020. - Credit: Archant

Early success sees cases drop from 99.6 per 100,000 to 66.4.

Warnings are delivered about a likely spike in cases in the months ahead.

Meanwhile on October 4 Jodey Hopcroft runs a 49 mile virtual London marathon due to a GPS failure and Julia Hunt, a  nurse and former JPUH director of nursing who delayed her retirement during the pandemic, is made an MBE.

Jodey Hopcroft admitted she had a few tears by the roadside when she ended up running nearly 50 mile

Jodey Hopcroft admitted she had a few tears by the roadside when she ended up running nearly 50 miles instead of 26.2 during the virutal London marathon because of a poor GPS signal Picture: Jodey Hopcroft - Credit: Archant

A period from July 3 to October 8 sees no Covid deaths at all, but as infection rates climb so do fatalities.

November

A second month-long lockdown for England begins in order to prevent a Covid disaster for the NHS.

It saw a last minute rush to the shops and to meet up with friends.

Communities regroup to help the vulnerable.

And while businesses say they are "gutted" to be closing, there are calls to carrying on shopping online as companies shift their model.

The JPUH pleads with visitors to only wear surgical masks and no other forms of face coverings as hospital admissions jump by 183pc.

To beat the gloom people start putting their Christmas  lights up early.

Melissa Powley has dropped leaflets through hundreds of doors in Martham urging people to trim up an

Melissa Powley has dropped leaflets through hundreds of doors in Martham urging people to trim up and 'Make Martham Sparkle'. Picture: Melissa Powley - Credit: Archant

Although schools remain open there are outbreaks and closures.

Disappointment is expressed in Yarmouth at being in Tier 2 which means no mixing of households indoors and pubs having to provide a "substantial  meal" when serving alcoholic drinks.

Yarmouth Mercury front page from November

Mercury front page from November 2020. - Credit: Archant

Cases had peaked at 238.58 per 100,000 but had dropped to 104.7. A review is expected on December 16.

December

As the four-week lockdown ends on December 2 gyms and non-essential shops reopen, while collective worship and weddings are allowed again.

By the middle of the month infection rates are spiking again.

New Christmas lights, coronavirus marshals, and free parking are aiming to encourage people to shop safely in Great Yarmouth.

Mr Malcolm Metcalf, aged 87 from Gorleston, having his pre-consultation with a doctor before having

Mr Malcolm Metcalf, aged 87 from Gorleston, having his pre-consultation with a doctor before having his COVID-19 vaccination at James Paget Hospital. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Malcolm Metcalf, from Gorleston, becomes one of the first people in the region to receive a vaccine.

Yarmouth Mercury front page December

Mercury front page from December 11, 2020. - Credit: Archant

The Queen's Head in Burgh Castle introduces a Penne-y Pasta dish to serve with alcohol and be within the substantial meal rules.

A 'Not Alone' campaign is launched to help fight loneliness and depression over Christmas.

Infection rates reach 194.3 per 100,000 in Great Yarmouth leading to concerns the Tier 2 restrictions are not doing enough to contain the virus.

Norfolk is moved into Tier 4 from Boxing Day, with large sectors of the economy closed down again and people having to stay at home.

A third lockdown begins on January 6.





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