Lockdown easing brings joy, smiles and hope on Great Yarmouth's Regent Road
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
One of Great Yarmouth's busiest shopping streets has been like a "ghost town", traders and visitors say.
But that all changed on Monday as the bustle began to return to Regent Road, and a spring lockdown easing brought green shoots of hope to local businesses.
Gemma Hodges, a landau operator, was standing at the horse station with her horse, Dottie. Ms Hodges, summed up the mood: "It's really nice to be back."
"I had so many people wave at me this morning - people saying 'yay, you're back'," Ms Hodges said.
"To be fair, I'm not expecting lots of trade today. A lot of it for me today is just to get out, get the horse out, get the cab rolling for the rest of the season."
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Mark Southgate, from Mildenhall, was in town on a day trip, taking the family out to celebrate daughter Danielle's birthday.
Mr Southgate said: "We came over to celebrate Danielle's birthday and to celebrate the softening of regulations.
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"Great Yarmouth is something different and not our normal route. We're all happy, and our granddaughter, Gracie, is very happy to be out for the first time since she was a baby."
When asked whether the family will be shopping, Mr Southgate said: "We're not sure what's open yet, so we're just checking it out."
Further down Regent Road, morning coffee drinkers were enjoying the outdoor seating at Wrights Restaurant.
One customer, Vernon Cupstey, insisted it was serving "the best coffee in Yarmouth".
Wrights owner, Marios Charalambades said: "We're open today and we have a positive attitude towards it."
Mr Charalambades - like many people - found the latest lockdown tough.
"We had hopes of opening for the new year, but that was cut short," he said.
"It was disappointing, because we'd only just got the ball rolling, all of our customers came back, and then it was a bit of a kick in the teeth."
The restaurant is open seven days a week, and is expecting a lot of trade for breakfasts and lunch, and will "play it by ear" with regards to evening trade.
Mr Charalambades is also very hopeful to soon have more outside seating. He said: "We'd like to invite new and old customers to have a coffee with us now that we're able to."
People have been desperate for haircuts over the past few months, so it was of little surprise to see the hairdressers on Regent Road, Hair 4 U, without an empty seat in store.
Hair 4 U owner, Mark Roberts, said: "Things haven't been easy."
Mr Roberts was overwhelmed by the custom Hair 4 U had received since opening earlier in the day.
"Sorry, I'm so emotional," he said.
"There's been a lot of people that have had more problems than some of us, but it hasn't been easy for any of us: whether people have been lonely, or worried about finances. It's been difficult."
With a smile and tears down his cheek, Mr Roberts said: "We are open today, and business is very good. Yes!
"We're open seven days a week. From 7.30am and we close when the last person goes home. I am positive about the future, yes."
At the bottom of Regent Road, James Cullabine, from Norwich was drinking a coffee and said: "I've been up and down here in the winter, just having a coffee and it's been dead as a door nail.
"I've not heard a whisper, it's been like a ghost town."
With a smile, Mr Cullabine continued: "But now, I've come out today, the sun is shining, it's like everything has come back to life again. It's lovely."
With Easter over, many traders lamented missing what is usually a good period for trade - but agreed positivity was returning and the future looked bright.