Diss in high spirits as dozens of shops reopen
PUBLISHED: 17:46 15 June 2020
Shoppers and business owners in Diss were in high spirits as non-essential shops opened for the first time since lockdown began.
As dozens of customers made a tentative return to their favourite stores on Monday (June 15), the mood was optimistic and the town busy as people enjoyed summer sunshine.
Thousands of businesses across the country deemed non-essential have been closed since March, when Boris Johnson announced a widespread lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But as the latest step towards a welcome return to normality came into force, Diss began to resemble its former self following an unprecedented few months.
Birgitte Mager, owner of Diss Publishing Bookshop and cafe, said it had been “delightful” to finally welcome back customers.
“We came in at 9am but spent over an hour going through our health and safety measures to make sure we were COVID-compliant, by which point people were queuing up outside,” said Mrs Mager.
“The stream of customers has been steady, I would say. I can’t say we’ve been busy, but we just think it’s lovely people want to come back and get back to normal.
“Customers are browsing but they’re buying as well, which is really important for us. Hopefully in time the tourists will begin to come back too.”
Last week South Norfolk Council unveiled its ‘Shop With Confidence’ campaign, which has seen measures put in place boost safety and make visitors feel more confident.
In Diss, police were on hand to advise motorists as changes which have seen one-way restrictions on Market Place and Market Hill reversed came into force.
Keen shoppers Mags Jamieson and June Jones, who live locally, said they had been “counting down the days” since the prime minister gave stores permission to reopen.
“It has been absolutely wonderful to come back,” said Mrs Jones. “I’ve missed coming to the shops, catching up with people and our little Diss is a wonderful place to be.
“Everybody has been smiling and talking to each other too, which really makes a difference.”
Mrs Jamieson added: “All the shops are looking beautiful and we’re delighted to be here and help support our little economy.
“We’re sensible people and everybody’s taking precautions and following all the rules. The town is definitely ready for shoppers to come back.”
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