Traders in a seaside town said face coverings were a personal thing despite warnings people should wear masks if they feel unwell amid a rising tide of 'flu and Covid cases.

Signs on Hunstanton High Street still warn: "Hands, Face, Space."

Across the road, Tony Gooch has turned mask wearing from preferred to personal choice in the window of Hunstanton Model Shop.

Eastern Daily Press: Tony Gooch at Hunstanton Model ShopTony Gooch at Hunstanton Model Shop (Image: Chris Bishop)

"If you feel vulnerable, it's a personal thing if you wear one or not," he said. 

"If you've got a cold or you feel compromised by the number of people in a location, wear a mask.

"I went down to London in October, I came back and within 48 hours I had Covid. I'd been clear of Covid for two and half years up here, it's a volume issue."

At nearby By The Book, Adrian Eden, said there would need to be another government directive, like those issued during the height of the pandemic, to make him wear one.

Eastern Daily Press: Adrian Eden, at By The Book in HunstantonAdrian Eden, at By The Book in Hunstanton (Image: Chris Bishop)


"It's not that I'm against them," he said. "But I think from people coming into the store it's fine for them not to wear one - unless someone is stupid, coming in when they've got the lurgy."

He added just one of his regular customers, an elderly woman, still wore a mask.  

Mel Field, who runs Witches Cauldron with Mandy Beal, said: "If you've got a cold but you're able to get out and about, I think out of respect for everybody else wear a mask."

Eastern Daily Press: Mandy Beal (left) and Mel Field in Witches Cauldron at HunstantonMandy Beal (left) and Mel Field in Witches Cauldron at Hunstanton (Image: Chris Bishop)

The women, who opened the shop four months ago, test themselves regularly for Covid. 

In the space of an hour, just one female shopper appeared wearing a mask.

Jackie, 58, who declined to give her surname, said: "I still wear it all the time. I'd rather be safe than sorry."

Her friend Sue, 71, who was not wearing a mask, said: "I do if there's a big crowd or if I'm going to the doctor's"

Eastern Daily Press: A Covid Warning sign in the High Street at HunstantonA Covid Warning sign in the High Street at Hunstanton (Image: Chris Bishop)

As students return to Smithdon High School after the Christmas break, mask wearing remains voluntary.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn said it was seeing between 10 and 15 Covid admissions a day, but most were not serious.

While staff have seen a steady increase in flu cases, these mirrored the prevalence of the virus in the wider community. 

The tide has also turned as far as advice goes since the height of the pandemic.

It used to be stay at home and self isolate if you had coronavirus. Now it's "try to".

Eastern Daily Press: The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn is seeing around a dozen Covid cases a day The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn is seeing around a dozen Covid cases a day (Image: QEH)

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warns: "Flu and coronavirus (COVID-19) are currently circulating at high levels and are likely to continue to increase in coming weeks." 

Susan Hopkins, its chief medical adviser, said: "Adults should also try to stay home when unwell and if you do have to go out, wear a face covering. When unwell don’t visit healthcare settings or visit vulnerable people unless urgent."

Infections are on the increase again across Norfolk, according to the latest figures.

They rose by 26pc during the run-up to Christmas, with 548 people contracting the virus.

Some 60 people per 100,000 across the county were infected in the week ending December 17 - the most recent data on the government's interactive map, which used to be updated daily.  

Eastern Daily Press: Covid cases are on the increase in HunstantonCovid cases are on the increase in Hunstanton (Image: Chris Bishop)

In some areas, the increase in cases was higher. They rose by 50pc to a rate of 114 per 100,000 in Hunstanton.

Yet that still equates to just six cases - albeit before the influx of Christmas and New Year visitors.