Queues and tunes as life returns to city on Saturday after shops reopen

Norwich city centre Primark queue

For Tanya, Morgan and Elliot, from Lowestoft, it was their first visit to Norwich since before Christmas. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Familiar sights and sounds returned to Norwich city centre on the first Saturday after non-essential shops reopened as part of England's emergence from lockdown.

The longest queue in the city was again outside Primark, where a line of shoppers stretched from the budget clothing store's entrance on Haymarket all the way up to the Forum on Millennium Plain.

Nobody was complaining, though, the April sunshine no doubt playing its part, and the queue was moving steadily, with people waiting no more than 20 minutes before getting inside the shop.

Paul Reynolds Watton

Paul Reynolds, 55, from Watton, was looking forward to wandering around Norwich city centre on the first Saturday after shops reopened. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Paul and Michelle Reynolds, from Watton, said it was their first time into Norwich since Christmas.

"We've been looking forward to getting out and about. We've been looking forward to having a wander around," said Mr Reynolds.

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They weren't going to Primark for anything in particular, he added, "just having a look."

Norwich city centre

Norwich City Centre on the first Saturday after shops reopened. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

For Tanya, Morgan and Elliot, from Lowestoft, it was also the first time in the city since the third lockdown began in early January.

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"I don't like shopping online, and I need to get some work clothes," said Tanya.

Not being able to come to Norwich hasn't made a massive difference to them. "We only come over every few months anyway. We're mainly here for Primark and this is the nearest one.

"It's just nice to see people," she added.

Nathan Arbon Bury

Nathan Arbon, 27, from Bury, said Norwich city centre seemed "quite quiet" on the first Saturday after shops reopened. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Nathan Arbon, 27, from Bury, said it was the first time he's been in the city since March last year.

"We just need some cheap clothes, and I don't shop online," he said.

He also said town seems "quite quiet".

Another sign of life returning to the streets were the buskers on London Street.

Mighty Guevaras Norwich

The Mighty Guevaras entertaining people on London Street in Norwich. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

The Mighty Guevaras, a three-piece blues band, were entertaining onlookers and passers-by outside Jarrolds.

Guitarist Drew Webster, 51, said it was the first time the band had performed all year.

"People are relieved to see some live music again, as much as we're pleased to be able play for people," he said.

In between songs, a woman dropped a coin into the open guitar case in front of the band. "Sorry, that's all I've got. People don't carry much coins anymore," she said.

Emma Nuule, soprano, in Norwich

Emma Nuule, soprano, performing on London Street in Norwich on the first Saturday after shops reopened. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Further down the street, outside Cosmos restaurant, soprano Emma Nuule was singing a number from opera La Boheme.

She said: "I used to perform here quite a lot, I've missed doing it, so it's nice to get out and have a go.

"I'm enjoying having an audience again, because people stop and listen. During lockdown I've just been doing videos online but it's not the same.

"People have missed having some entertainment."

In Chapelfield shopping centre, business was brisk, with queues outside H&M, Lush, Schuh, the Apple Store, JD Sports, Zara and Shaake.

A member of staff stood at the top of the escalators, holding a bottle of sanitiser and a cloth, wiping down the moving handrail.

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