'Lockdown would be horrendous' - People in Norfolk react to Indian variant

John and Irene Bale said they would hate another lockdown to have to be imposed in response to the Indian Covid-19 variant

John and Irene Bale said they would hate another lockdown to have to be imposed in response to the Indian Covid-19 variant - Credit: Archant

People in Norwich say more than anything they want to avoid another lockdown as they react to news of the so-called Indian variant of the virus.

Nationally, there are 1,313 confirmed cases of the variant with fewer than 10 in Norfolk, but that hasn't quashed doubts from leading viral disease expert professor Paul Hunter that the June 21 roadmap may now be under threat.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said he was not ruling out regional restrictions in badly affected places like Bolton - an announcement condemned by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia. Picture: UEA

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia - Credit: UEA

Irene Bale and her husband John, who were visiting Norwich for the day, said they were desperate to avoid more restrictions.

"Another lockdown would be horrendous", said Mrs Bale. "The vaccination process was supposed to be our way out of this, and from Monday we were supposed to be on our way back to normality.

"I really hope that hasn't been jeopardised."


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Wendy Harris and her daughter Leah, a first-year UEA student, felt the same.

Wendy and Leah Harris (right) said they were concerned but hoped the vaccine would still be able to do its job

Wendy and Leah Harris (right) said they were concerned but hoped the vaccine would still be able to do its job - Credit: Archant

Miss Harris said: "I think as long as the vaccine is still effective I'm not overly concerned, and at the moment that seems to be the message from government.

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"It's my first year at uni and all I've known is online. We're all holding out for September as the time when our proper uni experiences begins, so I'd be gutted if new variants derailed any of that."

Sixth-form students Callum Wootten and Jack Ashman said they were frustrated the Indian variant had arrived in the first place. 

Mr Ashman said: "I don't understand why the lockdown we've just came out of wasn't a "proper" lockdown. We shouldn't have allowed international travel.

"Now it's here I'm not too worried though, because everyone who was vulnerable should have received their jab, and this variant doesn't appear to be vaccine-resistant."

Callum Wootten (left) and Jack Ashman in the city centre

Callum Wootten (left) and Jack Ashman said it was annoying the Indian variant had been allowed to get into the UK so easily to begin with - Credit: Archant

Mr Wootten added that he wouldn't mind further restrictions if that was absolutely necessary.

"It's annoying, but the most important thing is stopping people dying", he said.

For Andy Carlton, meanwhile, the prospect of new variant arrivals was something "always in the back of his mind".

He said: "It's lovely seeing people out and about and it'd be sad to have to revert to a lockdown, but the problem is that the world is so connected now.

"A variant might arrive in the UK in the morning and by the evening it's already spread to a bunch of people."

Matthew and Julie Hamment

Matthew and Julie Hamment, who live near Acle, said they were worried about the Indian variant, but no more than the pandemic in general - Credit: Archant

Matthew and Julie Hamment, who live near Acle, were out in the CIty for the first time since lockdown last year.

They said they were worried about the Indian variant, but no more than the pandemic in general.

Mrs Hamment said: "I think everyone is more conscious of being around others in the shops than you ever would be before all of this had happened. It was also going to be hard to get back to life as we knew it."

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