The high street was unmasked today as face covering rules have been loosened for the first time since the summer.

But despite the fact that Boris Johnson has lifted mandatory mask wearing, shoppers and businesses in Norwich appeared to remain cautious over shedding the restrictions too soon.

On the ground in Norwich today shoppers at John Lewis were pausing to rummage for masks in pockets and bags before setting foot in the shop.

Only a few customers entered the building without reaching for their masks.

A study of the shoppers conducted by this paper showed that around 90pc of the 50 people entering and leaving the Ber Street store were choosing to wear their masks.

It comes as the national chain supported shoppers continuing to wear their masks into store.

But elsewhere at Sainsbury's, which has similarly asked customers to keep wearing masks, most people disregarded this request when entering the St Stephens Street store.

Observing approximately 50 shoppers around lunch time it seemed that only 30pc were choosing to don their masks.

Those who did wear a mask inside were seen removing their face coverings.

However, people perusing the aisles still seemed cautious when picking up produce, trolleys and baskets.

People were seen using hand sanitiser and wiping down equipment.

Across the road at Marks and Spencer a board outside the store between St Stephens Street and Theatre Street asked visitors to keep wearing masks.

And here it seemed that people wanted to abide by the message.

Virtually everyone spotted entering the shop - of which around 50 were counted - was wearing a mask.

Lastly at Norwich Bus Station only a handful of travellers were seen unmasked.

Eastern Daily Press: Passengers wearing face masks travelling on buses in Norwich.Passengers wearing face masks travelling on buses in Norwich. (Image: Archant)

It comes after service provider First Bus asked passengers to wear masks for the foreseeable future.

Again, the majority of the 50 people seen were choosing to wear them.

In general on the streets of the city people were also spotted wearing their masks even outdoors.

Many of those who weren't wearing masks could also be seen carrying them in their hands alongside phones and bags, ready to put them on as they entered buildings.

What did the public have to say?

Some people out in Norwich felt that restrictions had been lifted too soon and were still taking a cautious approach.

Eastern Daily Press: Louise Forster, 59, lives in NorwichLouise Forster, 59, lives in Norwich (Image: Archant)

Louise Forster, 59, lives in Norwich, and said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous.

“People have already stopped wearing their masks and you can tell they just don’t care.

"We know what happened last time and how quickly the situation can change."

Eastern Daily Press: Roy Frostick, 74, had travelled in from DissRoy Frostick, 74, had travelled in from Diss (Image: Archant)

Likewise Roy Frostick, 74, had travelled in from Diss.

He pointed out that some people had dropped their masks before it was set in legislation, adding: “Mask wearing should definitely still be law.

"Even before today people who weren't exempt weren’t wearing masks in shops. It’s just not right.”

Eastern Daily Press: David Gibbs, 79, outside John LewisDavid Gibbs, 79, outside John Lewis (Image: Archant)

But David Gibbs, 79, said people should have the freedom to choose: “I think people should be left to decide themselves.

"It’s common sense that they wear them in enclosed spaces, but it shouldn’t be law that they have to do so.”

And not all Norwich folk are opposed to the abandonment of mask-wearing.

Eastern Daily Press: Karen Graf, 59, said she was one of two people on the bus who weren’t wearing a mask this morningKaren Graf, 59, said she was one of two people on the bus who weren’t wearing a mask this morning (Image: Archant)

Karen Graf, 59, said she was one of two people on the bus who weren’t wearing a mask this morning.

She looks forward to the “sense of normality” that no masks will bring, and says she hasn't felt completely comfortable since the start of the pandemic.

Karen added: “People no longer say hello or smile at each other.

"Masks being dropped is a good sign that things are becoming more socially interactive.”

It comes after bosses across Norwich said many of them would be choosing to keep their masks in close contact settings.

Heidi Worth, a massage therapist at The Rub in Pottergate, said: "Being constantly in close contact with customers means I'll still wear a mask.

"I'd rather know I was trying to keep everybody safe but I won't ask others to wear a mask, that's their choice."

She added: "I'm not overly happy about going back to normal, as just because the government lifts restrictions doesn't mean the virus is gone."