It has our lowest Covid rate - how does north Norfolk feel about lockdown?

Bob White, at Showcase Gallery in North Walsham Market Place. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Bob White, at Showcase Gallery in North Walsham Market Place. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

For people in north Norfolk, entering into a second lockdown may feel premature.

Mid-evening at Wells harbour. Picture: Jan Barrington

Mid-evening at Wells harbour. Picture: Jan Barrington - Credit: Jan Barrington

It has consistently had one of the lowest case rates per 100,000 people in the country, currently hovering around 35.

Yet a second national lockdown was introduced on Saturday afternoon, putting the district in the same level of restrictions as the rest of the country, including places which have more than 10 times its rate.

Its MP, Duncan Baker, said on Saturday morning that a lockdown for the county was not “warranted nor wanted”, but scientific advice has led the prime minister’s decision.

After complaints during the first lockdown, some may be cautious the news will prompt a rush out of bigger cities into rural and coastal areas, including from second home owners.

Cromer town centre. Photo: Colin Finch

Cromer town centre. Photo: Colin Finch - Credit: Colin Finch

Visit East Anglia has already urged people from higher tier areas not to travel to the county, and prime minister Boris Johnson says overnight stays will not be allowed unless for work.

Roger Arguile, who is head of tourism for Wells Parish Council, said he could not speak on behalf of the council itself, but said that he felt there was a chance that second homers may arrive in the town as the had in the first lockdown.

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He said: “Do I think that second home owners will come again? Well they did last time and the police sent some of them packing and this may well happen again... In my personal opinion, people act in their own interests, some people adhere to the rules precisely and some people don’t regard them as important. I think people are likely to be less observant of the rules now than they were last time.”

Cromer mayor Richard Leeds, though, pointed to bad weather, a change in season and school commitments as reasons why people from elsewhere were unlikely to come to Norfolk.

Conservative MP Duncan Baker says a national lockdown should not be forced upon North Norfolk. Pictu

Conservative MP Duncan Baker says a national lockdown should not be forced upon North Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

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He said: “I don’t think there will be too many coming down this time, I don’t think it will be such a worry this time, obviously children will still be at school and the weather’s not the same, they’re not going to want to be sitting in a caravan in gale force winds are they?”

Elsewhere, Bob White, at Showcase Gallery in North Walsham Market Place, said he felt north Norfolk was paying the price for rates elsewhere.

He said: “In places like Bristol and Exeter, you’ve got substantial cities with little problem and that’s down to behaviour and that’s why I would prefer to see a lockdown done by county, or a lockdown done by postcode.

“Therefore if you behave yourself in a postcode, as we have in this county, you haven’t got to worry, and if you’re locked down you should have to stay within the confines of your postcode.”

MORE: Seeing family and NCFC games - the new national lockdown rulesHe added: “If you look at the rates for Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk, north Norfolk has got the lowest infection rate of any sub area of those counties.

“We in this area have got Sheringham and Cromer as major towns and holiday resorts, we have had all the holiday makers, but our behaviour has meant that the infection rate is still rock bottom.

“Even though we have had bank holiday and half term visitors, the people that have come and the people that live here have maintained a very high standard of social distancing and behaviour.”

Mr White said he would still be able to trade during the lockdown and added that he had 14 members of staff ready to deliver to the community.He said: “We’ve always traded, we traded all the way through the last lockdown and we delivered every day, but what we have had to do when it was lockdown is reduce staff hours, shutting at 1pm because there was no one around.

“When the last one happened, we were very lucky to have the furlough scheme and I’m proud to say that we paid our staff in full all the way through despite being a small one man band.”

Colin Page, who runs Colin Page Tobacconists just down the road from Mr White’s shop, said he felt the national lockdown had been inevitable but questioned whether it was justified in north Norfolk where cases are still relatively low.

He said: “Everybody wants to keep the cases down, but personally I don’t know if a lockdown is justified around here. Although the cases have gone up it’s still very low percentage wise.”

He added: “It doesn’t really seem justified here for me but I suppose like everything, it’s difficult to do things region by region so they think they can only do one thing and that’s for the whole country to be locked down.

“I’ve often thought that perhaps they should say to people, you have to stay in your own county or within 40 miles of your home, but how would you police that?”

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