'We can see the light' - bumper trade for lunchtime cafés since April 12
- Credit: Victoria Pertusa
Lockdown easing and the rush back to the shops has seen cafés relying on lunchtime trade enjoy a bumper week - with some returning to pre-Covid levels.
On Monday, April 12, rules eased to allow non-essential retail to reopen and pubs and restaurants to serve customers outdoors.
While businesses across Norfolk and Waveney have benefitted, Norwich in particular has been very busy, with queues outside shops and tables at restaurants snapped up.
At the Two Magpies Bakery, which has a shop on Norwich's Timberhill, as well as others in Aldeburgh, Darsham and Southwold, owner Steve Magnall said the business had returned to 2019 levels.
"In the three weeks from March 29 to April 12, business increased by 32pc," he said, "and now we are 50pc up on last week.
"We are back to pre-Covid levels in 2019 now. Everybody has been desperate to get out."
He said Norwich, which has fewer outside seats, was the only branch not back to pre-Covid levels, but that trade was rapidly on the up and that opening indoors from May 17 would help.
"We've been really, really pleased," he said, adding that they had doubled sales of products including croissants and other pastries.
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He said the Norwich branch had been "heaving" at 7am, around the time when shops including Primark were opening, and that there was now an influx of office workers. Elsewhere, he said regulars were returning to enjoy the newfound freedom.
He praised his staff, who he said would have a busy few months, with trade rising steeply - a necessity, he said, after the lull of lockdown. At Darsham, he now has four people in, compared to one three weeks ago.
At Logan's, on Swan Lane in the city, owner Anthea McNamara said it had been such a busy time they had been able to open for a fourth day every week.
"We have been open for six weeks," she said, "and each week started to get a bit better than the week before.
"This week has been amazing. It's been a huge bump. We are now able to bring a team member back off of furlough. We have been in this dark tunnel and you can really see the light now."
She said she was apprehensive that the uplift wouldn't continue after the initial rush, but said the buzz around the city had been great.
The nature of visits had fluctuated, she said - a consistent flow of office workers, students who left before Easter and were returning and, more recently, people eating out in small groups.
City's Covid marshals
After a busy week, people in Norwich have been praised for sticking to the rules.
Covid support officers have been hired in districts across Norfolk, to make sure people are following the guidance and offering help if needed.
A spokesperson for Norwich City Council said the majority of businesses had worked hard to be Covid-safe, with its teams out this week only advising on "small improvements".
They said that included pinch points, where queues might affect other businesses, ensuring outside marquees were 50pc open and that QR codes were being properly enforced.
They thanked the public, who they said had been ensuring they wore masks where needed, regularly washed their hands and kept space between themselves and others.
"Everyone has been playing their part in helping to protect Norwich," they said.