‘I’m here to state that I’m back’ - Norwich Market reopens with one-way system and new rules
PUBLISHED: 15:56 01 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:56 01 June 2020
As bouquets bloomed and the smell of bacon sandwiches wafted past, Norwich Market made its return.
After fears over how its narrow aisles would cope in a socially distanced world, its team and traders set out to prove no obstacle was too great for the 900-year-old market.
Usually a hive of activity in the city, queues streaking from its stalls and people squeezing past each other, it was admittedly a quieter start.
Shoppers visited their favourite stalls, browsed colourful fresh produce or picked up some lunch in the sun.
But any footfall was welcomed by its traders, with those who were open simply happy to see customers’ faces once again.
With a one-way system in place, marked out by stickers on the floor and ‘no entry’ signs, and stallholders taking their own measures, it certainly wasn’t back to business as usual.
Alexander Pond, at Pond’s Flowers, was open for his first day after weeks away, which he largely spent enjoying his love of wildlife and bird-watching.
He said: “I haven’t come back to earn a fortune, I’ve come back to state that I’m here. It’s not over yet and I don’t think it will be for a long time, but we’re back and people have to use their initiative.”
He said he hoped the pandemic would end up bringing out the best in people.
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Up at Deb’s hot food stall, Deb Champion said they’d had a steady stream of customers, with the majority of people abiding by social distancing rules.
And with a quick nudge, she said, even those who were slightly more relaxed about matters were happy to oblige.
Signs at her stall encouraged people to keep their distance, with a plate for cash designed to minimise contact.
For some stallholders, their caution goes beyond business responsibility - many, including Deb, have unwell relatives to think of.
The market’s reopening attracted a flurry of interest - crews from local television stations made an early-morning visit, as well as a journalist from the Guardian newspaper, who had travelled up from London.
And there were plenty of eyes on hand to make sure all was well. Deb’s husband Shaun said the market was being patrolled by two traffic wardens, its managers and a security guard, and had received a visit from police officers.
But while some people might have missed the arrows on the floor, or nipped around a corner in the wrong direction unnoticed, most seemed happy with the arrangements.
One woman, 76, who hadn’t visited the market since lockdown began, took advantage of new rules on shielding to visit the butcher’s, saying she felt safe.
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