'A big loss' - City businesses feel impact of work-from-home guidelines

Strangers coffee Norwich see drop in trade following guidance to work from home

Strangers coffee shop in All Saints Green has seen a drop in trade following new guidance to work from home - Credit: Archant/PA

A business in Norwich has said "It's like someone turned the tap off" after seeing a dramatic loss in trade following the new work-from-home guidelines put in force.

The 'Plan B' guidelines for home working were announced last week on Tuesday by the prime minister, as part of efforts to curb the spread of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron.

For one city coffee shop, the impact was felt dramatically.

Giles Hayward-Smith, barista and manager at Strangers Coffee's All Saint's Green branch, said: "It's like someone turned the tap off. 

"Last week was really busy but today is the opposite. Where we are located, about 80pc of trade in the morning is from people heading to nearby offices to work, like at Aviva. With many businesses now working from home it will mean a big loss in trade. 

"It is okay at the moment with Christmas shoppers but it's uncertain what will happen to business if things get worse with Covid cases into the new year."

The impact of Aviva staff working from home has already prompted fears for another local business owner.

Kalpesh Patel, owner of Norfolk News in Surrey Street

Kalpesh Patel, owner of Norfolk News in Surrey Street - Credit: Ben Hardy

Speaking last week, Kalpesh Patel, who runs Norfolk News in Surrey Street said: "It could potentially be the final nail in the coffin here.

"We are heavily dependent upon Aviva, so it will really hit our takings."

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Roads around Norwich were also quieter this morning.

One motorist who regularly travels along Boundary Road and Cromer Road said: "Normally I find myself behind five or six cars at each traffic light I come to. Today, I sailed through quickly and was the first in the queue at each stop."

Another person who uses Norwich's bus network daily to get to work said: "The bus didn't seem any quieter than normal, it's been quiet for months although it was surprisingly busy considering. 

"There was a noticeable change in people's behaviour wearing masks. Often there will be a few people who aren't bothering but this morning I didn't see anyone not wearing one."

According to figures from today, London Liverpool Street, the main station in the capital that serves trains heading to and from Norwich, saw a 26pc reduction in the number of people using the station.