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‘Trying to get ahead of the curve’ - How would tighter restrictions impact Norwich?

PUBLISHED: 06:30 21 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:41 21 October 2020

David Cox, owner of Butterfly Boutique in Norwich, with sales assistant Megan Mayhew. Picture: Sophie Wyllie

David Cox, owner of Butterfly Boutique in Norwich, with sales assistant Megan Mayhew. Picture: Sophie Wyllie

Sophie Wyllie

As the rate of coronavirus cases in Norwich tops 100 per 100,000 people, calls are being made by concerned public health officials for us all to help stop the spread.

Shoppers out in force wearing masks in Norwich city centre on the first day it became mandatory for shoppers to wear face coverings in shops. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYShoppers out in force wearing masks in Norwich city centre on the first day it became mandatory for shoppers to wear face coverings in shops. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Between the end of September and October 10 the incidence in the city had trebled.

Despite the increase Norwich, which is in the government’s lowest Covid-19 alert level, numbers remain lower than cities elsewhere around the country.

But how do people in Norwich feel about the possibility of tighter restrictions?

Kim Cooper, joint owner of The Cuppie Hut on Norwich Market. Picture: Sophie WyllieKim Cooper, joint owner of The Cuppie Hut on Norwich Market. Picture: Sophie Wyllie

The clothes shop owner

David Cox, who has owned women’s fashion store Butterly Boutique on White Lion Street for nearly 15 years, believed any future restrictions would cause many businesses in the city to close.

Mr Cox believed the overall restrictions and response to the pandemic was an overreaction, and said most people were being sensible.

The shop owner said his takings and footfall were down 50pc on usual numbers for this time of year.

Dan and Leanne Fridd, owners of Bookbugs and Dragon Tales on Timberhill, Norwich. Picture: Sophie WyllieDan and Leanne Fridd, owners of Bookbugs and Dragon Tales on Timberhill, Norwich. Picture: Sophie Wyllie

He said: “Business is absolutely awful. It is like it is a February, which is traditionally the worst month for trade. I’d say business is worse now than it was when we came out of lockdown in July.

“I know lots of people in business who cannot wait to run the course of their lease and get out. I think if most people could walk away from businesses, they would.”

Mr Cox, 56, from Taverham, added he was in a lucky position because he was living mortgage free but said business owners who had to pay mortgages were facing problems.

Shoppers around Norwich Market staying safe in masks. Picture: Sonya DuncanShoppers around Norwich Market staying safe in masks. Picture: Sonya Duncan

• The market trader

At Norwich market’s Cuppie Hut stall, joint owner Kim Cooper, 47, said: “Trade has been really busy, especially on Saturday. Everyone is in the mindset of coming into the city to do the Christmas shopping before a lockdown. I think there will be more restrictions.

“We need common sense. I think it is all about timing. If another lockdown happened at Christmas there would be quite a few businesses that wouldn’t survive. I think sooner rather than later would be better.”

She believed food businesses would cope better than other retailers if more restrictions were imposed.

University of East Anglia student Sam Hewitson. Picture: Sam HewitsonUniversity of East Anglia student Sam Hewitson. Picture: Sam Hewitson

The stall owner, who said people were enjoying buying sweet treats during the coronavirus outbreak, added a lot of shoppers on the market were complying with the rules and wearing masks.

• The university student

Sam Hewitson, 20, from Edinburgh, is studying a masters in media and international development at the University of East Anglia.

Wendy Howe, left, with her friend Sue Lawrence, at Waterloo Park, Norwich, after people who were shielding during lockdown could meet from July 2020. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANWendy Howe, left, with her friend Sue Lawrence, at Waterloo Park, Norwich, after people who were shielding during lockdown could meet from July 2020. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

He said he was scared about the feelings from wider society that students were to blame for the recent spikes.

It comes as three students were fined £10,000 after hosting a house party in Bowthorpe Road.

Mr Hewitson said: “Most students are being careful. There are some students that are not and ruining it for the rest of us.”

He said he believed it was coincidence the rise in cases happened as students returned and other factors were involved.

Queen's Hill Primary and Nursery School headteacher Penny Sheppard. Photo: Bill SmithQueen's Hill Primary and Nursery School headteacher Penny Sheppard. Photo: Bill Smith

He said: “I think there should be another national lockdown. The first lockdown should have been for longer and it was cut too short. Because of that we are in the position we are in now.”

Mr Hewitson added many students would not agree with his viewpoint.

The shielder

Shoppers in Norwich staying safe in face masks.
 Picture: Sonya DuncanShoppers in Norwich staying safe in face masks. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Wendy Howe, 67, from Pelham Road in Norwich, was shielded at home from March to July due to her severe asthma.

She said: “I’m still taking my dog out for a walk and talking to people from two metres away but I have not gone back into the city as there is so much of the virus about. I’m still being careful.”

She believed that Norfolk was in the correct Covid-19 alert tier and said it was important for people to use their common sense.

She said a two to three week national lockdown would be detrimental to both the economy and people’s mental health.

• The headteacher

Penny Sheppard, headteacher of Queen’s Hill Primary School and Nursery in Costessey, said: “As a primary school, we already have plans in place in case we are put into a second or localised lockdown.

“My understanding is that primary schools would remain open – but our plans also include remote learning for the majority of our children and childcare for the 130 pupils whose parents/carers have indicated that they are key worker families.

“Whether the school is fully or partially closed we know that childcare can be the biggest headache for parents and carers, especially for those that rely heavily on extended family or friends. With this in mind we have arranged that our after school childcare provision would be open for key worker children until 6pm.

“As a school we have accessed a lot of training on how to support children and their families with wellbeing and mental health and this is an area, as a headteacher that I am particularly concerned about. We know that financial pressures and a feeling of isolation can hugely impact on one’s quality of life. Education is so much more than reading, writing and maths and whether we enter a second lockdown or not, we need to be supporting each other in these very difficult times.”

The following year 6 pupils from the school also had their say:

Honey, 10, said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing my family at Christmas. If we have lockdown now so that I can see them then, that would be good.”

Riley, 10, said: “Not seeing my family in lockdown would be the worst thing.”

Julia, 11, said: “I don’t have a problem with working at home on my computer. Both my parents are keyworkers though and I would worry about them. It’s also very difficult with not being able to go abroad to see our family, like we normally would in the holidays.”

Bryanie, 10, said: “Being in lockdown is really boring. But if they are going to shut things then they should shut everything.”

Ashton, 10, said: “I’d be happy if we had to go into lockdown as it would mean slowing down the virus but I don’t think older children should go to school as they are still spreading it.”

Leon, 10, said: “I want to be in school learning and seeing my friends but my parents would need to stay at home in a lockdown. They would have to stop working and I’m worried that they wouldn’t be paid.”

Luigi, 11, said: “I think there should be lockdown in just certain places where there are lots of cases of Covid. The last lockdown really helped the environment though. People need to stick to the rules that are already in place and then we wouldn’t have to go into lockdown.”

• The bookshop owners

Sprowston couple Dan and Leanne Fridd, who opened Bookbugs and Dragon Tales bookstore on Timberhill in August last year, said: “We survived the last lockdown by the skin of our teeth. It took us off guard last time. We do fear another lockdown and it is probably looking imminent. We are trying to get ahead of the curve.

“Our business goes in waves and we have noticed business is picking up post-lockdown.”
She added parents were “desperate” for activities to do with their children as well as bulk buying books for Christmas and a potential lockdown.

To combat challenges of increased restrictions the couple will continue to deliver books from online orders as well as investing in a virtual tour of the shop on their website thanks to 3D modelling technology.

They added that customers were being sensible and the majority of Norfolk residents followed the rules.


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