Quiet after the rush - How a Norfolk town has changed since second lockdown started
- Credit: Archant
How much has changed in the busy market town of North Walsham since the start of the second coronavirus lockdown? Reporter STUART ANDERSON spoke to traders and customers to find out.
An eerie quiet descended over our town centres during the early days of the first lockdown, as all but a few business stopped trading.
‘Lockdown 2’, as it has become known, has taken on a much different feel as businesses and customers do their best to carry on where they can.
While the front doors of many North Walsham shops including charity shops, florists and pubs are shut for walk-in customers, others remain open.
Butchers, bakeries, banks, Quality Discounts and the Drugstore are among those still welcoming people in.
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And the town’s Thursday market in the Market Place is also still going ahead.
But Natasha Williams, co-owner of Christopher’s Cafe and Bakery in Church Street, said it felt strange to be back in lockdown.
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She said they would have fewer customers as much of their business came from their cafe.
She said: “We are going to close early because there are just not as many people about. I think it’s going to be a hard month. But it does seem like there were a lot more places that had to close in the first lockdown.”
Mrs Williams said she was unsure how necessary a second national lockdown really was, but she suspected it might continue after December 2.
She said: “I think Norfolk as a whole has done very well and behaved itself.
“I think it might go on for another two weeks after this initial four weeks, and then there will be a mad rush before Christmas.”
Sharon Karrigan, from Norwich, operates the Carmichels Fishmongers van at every North Walsham market Thursday.
She said she had noticed a huge difference in the amount of foot traffic from before the lockdown started.
MORE: Furlough scheme extended until March 2021Ms Karrigan said: “We were in Bury St Edmunds and it was absolutely heaving - the queues to get into Marks and Spencer were huge.
“It’s definitely quieter here now. People are just coming out and getting what they want and going home.”
Ms Karrigan said she had the feeling many people did not yet understand the scope of the second lockdown.
She said: “I don’t think they expect to find us open, because the last lockdown no-one here opened.
“All the markets were shut even though the government said we were allowed to trade because we’re part of the food chain.”
John and Marion Hurn, of North Walsham, were among the shoppers in the Market Place.
Mr Hurn said the town felt much different during the first lockdown.
He said: “More shops are open this time, so it’s a bit more lenient. I don’t think it’s going to be as quiet as it was in the first lockdown.
“The colleges and schools are open so there are at least a few more students about.”
Mr Hurn said he thought the lockdown would have a big economic impact.
He said: “It’s a balancing act between keeping people safe and keeping the economy ticking along. But this could finish off certain businesses that we are on the brink anyway.”
Mrs Hurn said she thought the second lockdown was “definitely necessary”.
She said: “I think we should’ve done it sooner.”
Ian Jackson, of Sam’s Pets in the Market Place, was also open in line with the regulations.
Mr Jackson said there had been few customers about on the first day of the lockdown.
He said: “It’s still early days, but it’s definitely quieter.
“We had three mad days so we knew we were in for a quieter time because everybody stocked up.”
Mr Jackson said there was clearly a different public attitude to this lockdown as opposed to the last one.
He said: “No-one seems to be taking it seriously - all the major shops are open. Hopefully the council won’t try and pedestrianise us this time.”