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‘It is disturbing’ - Business as usual as Wymondham reacts to soaring coronavirus cases

PUBLISHED: 18:00 18 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:34 19 November 2020

Sarah Ellan was doing her weekly food shop at Morrisons in Wymondham. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

Sarah Ellan was doing her weekly food shop at Morrisons in Wymondham. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

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It is one of the worst hit places in the country for cases of coronavirus, with rocketing rates putting it among the top 100 in England.

Wymondham town centre after it was revealed that the town now has the 45th highest Covid rate in England. Photo: Ella WilkinsonWymondham town centre after it was revealed that the town now has the 45th highest Covid rate in England. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

But people in Wymondham were going about their business as usual on Wednesday morning - with some admitting they had no idea cases in the town were so high.

Sarah Ellan, 48, was doing her weekly food shop at Morrisons, on Postmill Close, and said she was unaware of the “alarming news” that Wymondham has been revealed as among the worst hit towns across the country.

“It is disturbing that the numbers are so high,” she said.

“I noticed it was a lot quieter in the store today. I’m not sure why it’s so bad in Wymondham but this hasn’t really been a proper lockdown - the schools and universities are still open and people are still at work.”

Terance Banham visiting Wymondham town centre. Photo: Ella WilkinsonTerance Banham visiting Wymondham town centre. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

Terance Banham was in Wymondham town centre to visit the bank but said he was also unaware of the town’s high figures.

“I don’t live in the town I’m only here because Barclay’s bank is shut in Attleborough. But I wasn’t aware, no.

“I know I’m an older person but you just have to deal with it, what else can you do? If you need to go to the shop, you need to go to the shop. Just put your face covering on.”

There have now been 136 positive coronavirus cases in Wymondham over the seven days up to November 13 - 89 in Wymondham East and Spooner Row and 56 in Wymondham West.

John and Laura Harris visiting Wymondham Garden Centre. Photo: Ella WilkinsonJohn and Laura Harris visiting Wymondham Garden Centre. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

That means, Wymondham West, with a rate of 987.1 cases per 100,000 people, now has the 24th highest rate in England and Wymondham East and Spooner Row a rate of 763.8 cases per 100,000 people - the 107th highest out of 6,791 areas.

MORE: Concern after sudden surge in coronavirus cases in Wymondham

In the town centre, a small queue of shoppers could be seen outside of Merv’s Hot Bread Kitchen.

Noreen Hubbard, a staff member, said: “We are aware that numbers have gone up. It is definitely a lot quieter, people are scared to come out or they are being more cautious.

“This has definitely affected us this time, before people were coming out to get their essentials but the footfall is not the same now.”

Shoppers heading into Morrisons in Wymondham. Photo: Ella WilkinsonShoppers heading into Morrisons in Wymondham. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

As businesses were forced to close amid the second lockdown, essential shops have remained open and concerns have been raised about large numbers of people going in and out of supermarkets in the town.

At the town’s Morrisons, a steady stream of customers were shopping - with masks on and social distancing observed.

A spokesman from Morrisons said: “The safety of our customers and colleagues comes first.

“The number of customers allowed into our Wymondham store is limited, and when this limit is reached, we are inviting customers to queue outside of the store in a socially distanced way.

Aaron Seekings, staff member at Wymondham Garden Centre. Photo: Ella WilkinsonAaron Seekings, staff member at Wymondham Garden Centre. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

“Where possible, we are also asking our customers to shop alone when they can. Our door marshals can also offer face masks to customers who may have forgotten to bring them.”

At Wymondham Garden Centre, owner Brenda Groucott said it has “been business as usual” today, with a “steady trickle” of customers coming in and out.

She said: “It is very disappointing that Wymondham have high rates but Garden centres are a safe environment to be in.

“It is mainly outdoors, with lots of fresh air, a one-way system and all our safety measures in place.

Abbey Ayres and Noreen Hubbard at Merv’s Hot Bread Kitchen. Photo: Ella WilkinsonAbbey Ayres and Noreen Hubbard at Merv’s Hot Bread Kitchen. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

“We haven’t noticed a decrease in customers but the news of high cases in Wymondham is only just becoming common knowledge so we will see what happens.”

John and Laura Harris, who were visiting the garden centre, moved to the town last week.

Mrs Harris said: “We certainly didn’t know it was that bad, but we have moved from Brighton which had quite high figures so it doesn’t shock us too much.”

Now the Mayor of Wymondham, Kevin Hurn, is urging residents to stick to the rules and stay at home, as Wymondham Town Council, South Norfolk and Norfolk County Council are working together to prevent the virus from spreading.

Mr Hurn said: “People need to comply with the guidelines and only leave home for essential journeys, shopping or work.

“Hopefully by doing that we can all keep each other safe and see a reduction in cases over the next few weeks. If we don’t, we will find ourselves in tier three when lockdown ends and that is something we don’t want.

“We are not here to scaremonger but we want to press home the point to stay home and stay safe.”

Mr Hurn said there are currently no plans to close schools or colleges in the town.

The Sapientia Education Trust, which runs Wymondham College, Wymondham College Prep School and Attleborough Academy School, said they have a whole range of precautionary measures in place to keep students safe.

Jonathan Taylor CEO Sapentia Education Trust: “In addition to the government guidance, we have recently introduced face coverings in all enclosed spaces in our secondary schools, including classrooms.

“We have instigated enhanced cleaning routines, invested in ‘misting’ technology to ensure deep cleaning in all schools and have our ‘in-house’ team of health and safety officers available to support 24/7.

“We work closely with a range of partners, including the Department for Education, Public Health England and Norfolk County Council to ensure robust safety measures are in place. I am grateful for the overwhelming support from staff, students and parents for our measures.”


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