Most Golden Mile amusements in Great Yarmouth will stay open unless ‘told to do otherwise’
PUBLISHED: 14:18 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:21 18 March 2020
JAIME-LEA TAYLOR 2018
Most of Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile businesses are staying open “until told to do otherwise”, fearing a drastic loss of business if they were to shut up shop for the summer.
The seaside town’s Marine Parade is known for its array of arcades, amusements and nightlife, with people venturing from across the UK to visit in the warmer months.
But while there have been concerns coronavirus could spoil all that, most seafront buisness owners are keen to stress that “everything will open as planned” unless the government intervenes.
For Albert Jones, owner and operator at the Pleasure Beach, the summer season begins on March 28 and there are no plans to postpone that date.
He said: “There’s been no government or local authority guidance on this - so we’re planning to open with hand sanitisers and have given our staff guidance on what to do if they experience any symptoms.
“It’s a big risk but we’ve got no choice. We’ve never faced a situation like this before.
“If we were told to shut down that’d be absolutely disastrous for a seasonal industry and we’d need a lot of help from government.
“We’ve got over 100 seasonal staff who need to get paid.
“We’re just a family run business - it’s impossible to have contingency plans in place for a potential loss of entire seasonal revenue.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if it was September, or even just a couple of months. But it’s looking like the whole summer could be impacted.
“But right now, since the East of England seems less affected than other parts of the country, and we’re an open air venue which reduces the likelihood of spreading infection, we can say that everything will go on as normal.”
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Likewise, the scheduled opening date of March 21 for the new “Upside Down House” along Yarmouth seafront is “only going to be cancelled if the government decides that for us”.
A spokesperson for the company said that while coronavirus was posing an “extremely difficult situation” for leisure providers nationally, they were “very excited” to begin their new chapter in the area.
He said: “We all need some light in this darkness, and so Upside Down House will be opening the new attraction with increased precautions.
“Hand sanitisers will be available, and rails and other communal objects will be cleaned thoroughly and routinely.
“We will listen to the government and follow their advice, but will not be shutting down until explicitly told to do so.
“We’ve been working with the guys from the Pleasure Beach who will be operating the site for us in Yarmouth - and we don’t want to let them or any of our customers down.”
A spokesperson for Wellington Pier relayed similar information.
He said: “We are not closed at the moment. We’ll just be doing whatever the government wants us to do.
“Until we hear news telling us otherwise, Wellington Pier will be open as normal”.
However, some other businesses admitted they were “deeply unsure” about how to proceed.
Joyland, which was supposed to open for the summer at 11am on Saturday, March 21, said it would be postponing the opening “in the interest of our guests and employees” and “didn’t have a date in mind for when they would reopen”.
They said: “We are sorry to all the guests who were planning to visit us this weekend and thank you to everyone who has shown support for our business.”
In the aftermath of the Prime Minister’s first coronavirus conference on Monday, Boris Johnson suggested that people “stay away from bars, pubs, theatres and other such social venues”, but stopped short of saying they must close entirely.
Responding to backlash, chancellor Rishi Sunak promised a “business rate holiday”, and suggested that grants and loans had been made available for those businesses who will require government cash injections at this difficult time.
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