Seaside shoppers stick to masks - despite 'freedom day'

Fashion Wheel in Great Yarmouth

Carole Leighton and Patricia Sinclair of Fashion Wheel in Regent Road said they would still do everything they could to stay Covid-free despite the final last loosening of lockdown on July 19, 2021. - Credit: Liz Coates

The lifting of restrictions bought a mixture of "nerves" and "positive vibes" to Great Yarmouth's main tourism thoroughfare on Freedom Day.

With what might have been a joyous casting off of face masks muted by rising cases across the country people were still mainly sticking to the rules while visiting shops and browsing.

Traders on the stretch said they were keeping their masks, sanitation points, screens and one-way systems and hoped customers would take their lead.

But with no legal requirement to adhere to social distancing from July 19 they said it was a matter of "personal choice" for those entering their premises.

While some people were still wearing masks in the street the vast majority were putting them on when going inside shops and carrying on as if nothing had change.

Freedom Day in Great Yarmouth's Regent Road

Bill Porter at Gifts and Crafts was not ready to cast off his mask, but detected a more relaxed vibe among shoppers no longer bound by Covid restrictions like social distancing. - Credit: Liz Coates

Bill Porter of Gifts and Crafts said he had detected a more positive vibe in the shop where people were allowed to enter without masks and browse in comfort.

Although he was still wearing his face covering he took an "each to their own" attitude to those that did not, and generally felt the lifting of restrictions had lifted spirits and made shopping more pleasant.

Gary Allen of Vogue in Regent Road

Gary Allen of Vogue in Regent Road is sticking with Covid-safe measures and predicting a positive summer for Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Liz Coates


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At Vogue Gary Allen said it was early days and so far there had been no problems.

Nothing had changed in his shop with directional signs, staff with masks and behind screens, and a sanitation station all still in place.

Fashion Wheel in Great Yarmouth

Carole Leighton and Patricia Sinclair of Fashion Wheel in Regent Road said they would still do everything they could to stay Covid-free despite the final last loosening of lockdown on July 19, 2021. - Credit: Liz Coates

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Meanwhile at Fashion Wheel Patricia Sinclair and Carole Leighton said they would be sticking to social distancing and mask wearing for the benefit of everyone they came into contact with.

However the prospect of an influx of tourists from all areas of the country was "a bit nerve-wracking" now the country had reached the final stage four in the road map out of lockdown.

Avenue Fabrics in Great Yarmouth

Avenue Fabrics in Great Yarmouth's Market Place is sticking to pre-Freedom Day levels of Covid vigilance for the sake of older customers, some of whom have been shielding and make a special trip to the shop. - Credit: Liz Coates

In the town centre at Avenue Fabrics it was also business as usual. There, staff remain behind screens and the card payment machine is delivered to the customer by a home-made wooden paddle that maintains a 6ft social distance.

Laurence Holmes at The Book Shop in Victoria Arcade Great Yarmouth said he was happy with the way bu

Laurence Holmes at The Book Shop in Victoria Arcade pictured in June 2020. On Freedom Day (July 19, 2021) he said he was sticking with his mask and measures to prevent the spread of Covid 19. - Credit: Archant

At the Book Shop in Victoria Arcade where people tend to linger and browse rather than make a swift purchase there had been little obvious change.

Everyone coming in was still slipping on their masks, owner Laurence Holmes said.

"It's not a great hardship giving yourself a squirt," he said. "Ideally we would like people to carry on as they were."



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