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‘A bit strange’ - Great Yarmouth market reopens with restrictions as shoppers return

PUBLISHED: 16:58 03 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:58 03 June 2020

Alan Pitt had an enjoyable first day back on Great Yarmouth market on Wednesday June 3 after lockdown was lifted on Monday Picture: Liz Coates

Alan Pitt had an enjoyable first day back on Great Yarmouth market on Wednesday June 3 after lockdown was lifted on Monday Picture: Liz Coates

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It was market day again in Great Yarmouth, but not as we know it.

Signs reminding people about social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at Great Yarmouth's outdoor market which has reopened Picture: Liz CoatesSigns reminding people about social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at Great Yarmouth's outdoor market which has reopened Picture: Liz Coates

Wider aisles, a one-way system, people wearing gloves and masks, and hand sanitiser made for a “strange” atmosphere as it reopened on Wednesday (June 3) after more than two months of lockdown.

Stall holder Simon Wicks, who has Klobber menswear, said seeing people step way from each other while wearing masks and gloves brought a different feel to the historic two-day market, which was more than just a place to buy and sell.

“It is good to be out and one or two people have been commenting that it is nice to see us, but it does feel rather strange.

“Everybody is acting differently and dodging each other.

Great Yarmouth market was 'busier than expected' for trader Keith Barber, back at his pitch for the first time since lockdown on Wednesday June 3 Picture: Liz CoatesGreat Yarmouth market was 'busier than expected' for trader Keith Barber, back at his pitch for the first time since lockdown on Wednesday June 3 Picture: Liz Coates

“When we get the holiday trade back, it will pick up.

“I am sure it will all come back because people won’t be going abroad so we could have a boom.”

Keith Barber said he had enjoyed a reasonable first day back selling shoes and slippers.

He said: “It has been quite busy this morning, better than I expected.

A one-way system is in place at Yarmouth market to assist with social distancing Picture: Liz CoatesA one-way system is in place at Yarmouth market to assist with social distancing Picture: Liz Coates

“For the first day back it has been okay. It feels good, we all need to get out, and it is surprising how many people are shopping.

“Some people have been here for generations, but it is all fairly new for me and it has been okay.

“Everybody is glad that we are back, they are saying it is nice to see some stalls out in the open.”

MORE: Lockdown: Everything you need to know about the new rules

Mick Anderson, however, who has been selling women’s clothing in Yarmouth for 30 years, said people still seemed to be staying away and for him business had not been brisk.

However, he had enjoyed the enforced period of lockdown, a taste of retirement that was coming later in the year.

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He hailed the borough council for its support, keeping traders up to date and suspending fees, and was hopeful of a discretionary grant for those who had not so-far qualified for government help.

But he had been frustrated that supermarkets and discount retailers had been allowed to sell clothing, footwear and linen inside, when they were outside working alone, and arguably safer, but still had to shut.

Not all the stalls had turned up, he said, because some were in vulnerable groups and isolating, while others were waiting until either the shops opened on June 15 or the leisure and hotel industry got going as was hoped in July.

Meanwhile Alan Pitt of Funbags was happy to reconnect with his regulars.

Most people shopping at his stall were returning customers who had been waiting to come and get something specific and taken the first opportunity they could.

What was missing was the holiday trade, which was key to the market’s success in the summer.

“Everyone has been really nice,” he said.

MORE: Car boot sale reopening for traders this weekend

He said trade had been better than he expected, but that he had been mostly serving people who knew what they wanted rather that just browsing.

“It is strange having someone walk up to you but you have to stay apart,” he said

Outdoor markets and car showrooms were allowed to reopen in England from Monday.

A spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “Outdoor markets are now able to re-open fully under the government’s relaxed restrictions.

“On the six-day market, the council has already put markers on the floor and signage up to encourage social distancing, together with the provision of hand sanitiser for customers at all entrances.

“The two-day market is also operational again today, although at present there are fewer traders choosing to attend than usual.”

Many of the stalls on the six day market are open, including the pea stall, butchers, some of the chip stalls, and teas.

A few socially distanced benches are available in the plaza area although most are still off limits.


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