‘We miss the hustle and bustle’ - Norwich shoppers long for lockdown end

A fraction of the normal numbers of Saturday shoppers on Gentleman’s Walk in Norwich.

A fraction of the normal numbers of Saturday shoppers on Gentleman’s Walk in Norwich. - Credit: Simon Parkin

Normally bustling streets of Norwich are still filled with strange eeriness 12 months on from the onset of the pandemic. 

While the city centre doesn't quite have the ghost town feel of the first lockdown, announced last March, streets that would normally be thronged with Saturday shoppers remain quiet in this new normal. 

A deserted entrance to Chantry Place in Norwich.

A deserted entrance to Chantry Place in Norwich. - Credit: Simon Parkin

A fraction of the normal numbers could be seen on Gentleman’s Walk and London Street, while the entrance to Chantry Place sees only a trickle of people, numbers outnumbered by takeaway delivery riders.

This second lockdown allows restaurants, cafes and coffee shops to offer takeaways, while shops can deal with click-and-collect customers.

Norwich Market stalls were still drawing customers despite lockdown. 

Norwich Market stalls were still drawing customers despite lockdown. - Credit: Simon Parkin

There were queues at Norwich Market stalls and some eateries offering takeaway, including the ever popular Governor fish and chip shop on Pottergate. 


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But most people that could be seen were a mixture of wary mask-wearing shoppers, cyclists and families strolling through during lockdown freedom.

People were sparse at Pottergate in Norwich despite queues for some takeaway eateries.

People were sparse at Pottergate in Norwich despite queues for some takeaway eateries. - Credit: Simon Parkin

Ashley Pearce and his partner Beth Jones, from Sprowston, were picking up an online order. He said: “It’s a bit weird to be back in the city centre to be honest. 

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“We just haven’t been in much and I think that’s true for lots of people judging by how quiet it is.

“We’re not that big into shopping but we have missed just the hustle and bustle.”

Henry Hoffman and Kate Killick in Norwich.

Henry Hoffman and Kate Killick in Norwich. - Credit: Simon Parkin

Kate Killick, who has just moved from London to Norwich with Henry Hoffman, partly to escape lockdown, said: “I have become used to things as they are but we are definitely looking forward to things opening up again.”

He added: “Bars and restaurants are the thing that we’ve really missed. We would always make a thing of going out on a Friday or Saturday night. 

“We are trying to replicate it at home trying to make fancy cocktails and food delivery to try to replicate the restaurant experience. But we are looking forward to getting back to the real thing next month.”

A few families enjoying Chapelfield Gardens in Norwich during lockdown. 

A few families enjoying Chapelfield Gardens in Norwich during lockdown. - Credit: Simon Parkin

In Chapelfield Gardens families with children could be seen making the most of limited freedom and the cafe had drawn a small socially-distanced crowd. 

David, who runs the kiosk with partner Kerry, said: “It has been so much quieter than normal for March, the combination of the cold weather and the virus means people are staying at home. 

“It will be so nice to see more people returning when the shops open next month. 

Chapelfield Gardens Kiosk

Social distanced queue at Chapelfield Gardens Kiosk but owner David said numbers were much lower than normal. - Credit: Simon Parkin

“It’s been a long winter for many people. There is a lot of loneliness, people who live on their own who are glad to come and have a cup of tea. 

“We have a lot of elderly customers who are thankful they can come out and have a chat, even social distancing.” 

Norwich city centre remains quiet almost exactly a year since the start of the pandemic.

Norwich city centre remains quiet almost exactly a year since the start of the pandemic. - Credit: Simon Parkin

Few shoppers could be seen on London Street in Norwich at Saturday lunchtime.

Few shoppers could be seen on London Street in Norwich at Saturday lunchtime. - Credit: Simon Parkin

Norwich Market stalls were still drawing customers despite lockdown. 

Norwich Market stalls were still drawing customers despite lockdown. - Credit: Simon Parkin


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