‘Devastating’ - businesses gear up to weather second lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Traders in Norfolk are gearing up to weather another lockdown after the country was shut down once again, with some describing the new rules as “devastating”.
Boris Johnson said on Saturday afternoon that the new rules would begin on Thursday and continue until December 2.
They have been introduced in a bit to crack down on rising coronavirus cases nationally, and will see hospitality and non-essential shops close their doors once again.
Pubs, restaurants and bars will also be limited to takeaway service again.
In Fakenham, the Gallery Bistro shut its doors for the entire lockdown, offering only a takeaway service when shops reopened again in June.
The owner, Liam O’Sullivan said another lockdown was “devastating”.
“Just when there was a glimmer of hope that the government was getting a hold of the virus, we have this,” he said.
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“The uncertainty it has created for businesses like mine it is devastating.
“We have to make it through, it’s not a case of if with me, we have to. We have overheads and electricity bills and my staff to consider.”
But he said that just because it was the last weekend before lockdown people should not treat it as a “last hurrah” and “inundate hospitality”.
“We have a tough enough job following the rules as it is,” he said. “After the lockdown people need to change their behaviour, if not we will be caught in this vicious cycle.”
In Norwich, the zero waste and vegan Re. Source general store on Timber Hill offered a click and collect and delivery service during the first lockdown.
The shop, which is environmentally focused, sends products in paper bags or would ask people to bring their clean containers to the shop, which they would then, following safety guidelines, use to complete orders.
Owner Cata Parrish is worried about the shop making it through another lockdown.
“I wake up every night worrying, I just don’t know, but we will do our best,” she said.
She added that she does not know if the lockdown is the right or wrong thing to do, but can understand why it is necessary.
“I don’t know if I have an opinion on it, I don’t think I know enough about what we should be doing,” she said.
“I can see why it makes sense. We want our kids home for Christmas.
“So, we will just follow the rules regardless.”
For some businesses, little will change.
David Audley, from the Three Cottages Fish Bar in North Walsham, said a second lockdown would alter little for them.
The business has been running exclusively as a takeaway since March as the restaurant does not lend itself to social distancing.
In fact, Mr Audley believes lockdown might make them busier.
“It really depends on what happens with other businesses, like offices in Norwich,” he said.
“If that happens then the people who commute from North Walsham to Norwich will still be here and we could be busier.
“I hope we will carry on as per usual but will have to see what the regulations are.
“Given what is happening across the country I can see why a lockdown is a sensible thing but from a financial point of view it is a real problem.”
Back in spring, garden centres were the first non-essential shops to reopen after the initial lockdown.Allowing people to spend time in their gardens and leave the house, they became a haven for many, who opted to start indoor or gardening projects.
Some Norfolk centres even went online to trade their plants, like North Walsham Garden Centre, which saw record trade after reopening in May following a very popular lockdown delivery service.
The centre’s owner Ben Youngs said they are already preparing to shift back to that model.
They are restarting its delivery service and have ordered in extra gardening stock to cope with a potential boom in sales as it saw during the last national shutdown.
Mr Young said: “We hope we will be allowed to trade through, we’ve got more garden stock in than ever ready for it, we’ve anticipated this would happen and that there’s now a lot more gardeners out there so we’ve got more compost and seeds.
“What it will affect is that we’ve obviously got all our Christmas displays out so it will be a shame if people can’t see them.
“Hopefully, if it ends on December 2 like they’re saying there will be a bit of a Christmas boom and we’re all ready for that, with displays and stock.
“It will be a tricky time again for us but hopefully in December it will pay off in the end.”