'Normal is nerve-wracking': City bosses' plan to keep masks despite rules

People out and about in Gentleman's Walk as face masks are to become compulsory on public transport

People out and about will now no longer be required to wear a mask on public transport or in shops. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Shoppers can scrap their masks as of Thursday this week - but bosses of businesses in Norwich say they want to stick to wearing them for now.

From January 27 face coverings will no longer be mandatory indoors as the nation goes back to 'Plan A'. 

But for people who deal with droves of customers daily and omicron cases still being reported it seems like it may be a bit too much, too soon.

Stuart Martin, owner of Esteem Hair in Timberhill, said: "With all our clients coming in, as before, if they feel more comfortable with us wearing a mask we will.

"At the same time I think we should be moving to the next stage of dealing with the pandemic."

He added: "We need to see how things go and hopefully we don't go backwards.

"At the end of the day the client is most important person, but with people getting jabs and boosters hopefully we can all learn to live with it."

Stuart Martin owner of Esteem Hair

Stuart Martin, owner of Esteem Hair, says if customers feel more comfortable us wearing as mask we will. - Credit: Archant

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Michelle Hudson, owner of Waterlily Tanning and Beauty in the same street, said: "We will continue to wear masks for the time being.

"I feel it is quite early to consider taking off masks at this point as it's one of our main forms of protection from Covid.

"I honestly think most people will still keep masks on anyway."

In addition to the removal of compulsory face masks, people who test positive for Covid can now end their isolation after 5 full days, provided they test negative on day 5 and 6.

Ashley Percival, a sales adviser at Thorns in the Lanes, said: "I'll still be using masks as I'm not sure if we should be lifting restrictions at this point.

"You hear reports that say doing this could actually make things worse and with the information we have been given it's too soon to say for definite if we're making the right decision.

"While we won't enforce customers to wear a mask if they wish to still do so, that is entirely up to them."

He added: "I still think testing is important though - we still test if colleagues come down with symptoms, just to make sure we aren't passing it on to the public."

Though the news of no longer wearing a mask hasn't changed some business owner's minds on scrapping them, the idea of being mask free for the foreseeable future is a breath of fresh air for others.

Ashely Percival of Thorns will still wear a face mask

Ashley Percival, employee at Thorns says he'll still be wearing a face mask even after restrictions have lifted. - Credit: Archant

Rachael Braid, manager of Just Essentials in Guildhall Hill, said: "I am glad restrictions on masks are being lifted.

"While it is a bit nerve-wracking going back to normal, I'm looking forward to having masks gone, but we'll still likely have customers who wear them.

"I just hope these restrictions stick, as recently it seems like we move one step forward and two steps back."

Rachael Braid store owner at Just Essentials Hair and Beauty

Rachael Braid, store manager at Just Essentials Hair and Beauty is happy that restrictions on face masks are being lifted. - Credit: Archant

Matt Bradshaw, owner of Flicka in the lanes, said: "I always thought masks should have been a personal choice and the mandating of them created a bit of a barrier.

"We rely a lot on passing trade and foot traffic and it's hard enough to get people through the door - you then ask people to put on a mask - it stops that natural instinct you have to just pop into a shop.

"It just becomes another thing people have to do and the amount of people we got in the shop changed when masks were mandatory again, we noticed that there was a notable dip.

"Frankly I'm over the moon they're scrapping masks completely as it directly affects us as a business."

Matt Bradshaw owner of Flicka

Matt Bradshaw, owner of Flicka, is "over the moon" that customer no longer have to wear face masks. - Credit: Archant

Heidi Worth, a massage therapist at The Rub in Pottergate, said: "Being constantly in close contact with customers means I'll still wear a mask.

"I'd rather know I was trying to keep everybody safe but I won't ask others to wear a mask, that's their choice."

She added: "I'm not overly happy about going back to normal, as just because the government lifts restrictions doesn't mean the virus is gone."