‘We are relying a lot on common sense’ - How businesses in mid and north Norfolk are opening again
- Credit: Ian Burt
More than three months ago, the country went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, as the government’s rules begin to ease in England from July 4, many more businesses and leisure facilities are set to reopen.
Pubs, restaurants, and campsites around the county, including in mid and north Norfolk, are getting ready to welcome customers once again, after spending weeks preparing for this moment.
So exactly how will businesses be reopening?
Vance Taylor, of Field View Farm at Colkirk, near Fakenham, runs a B&B with husband David. The couple took 32 cancellations within 24 hours when lockdown was first announced, and 45 in total.
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Mr Taylor said: “We had our last booking on March 12, so we are looking forward to opening again on July 4.
“We have used the time to freshen up and decorate throughout. We’ve made everything absolutely shipshape. Our holiday cottage, next to the main building, is fully booked all summer now.
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“We will be following the guidelines and have hand sanitiser in all the rooms and near the entrances and exits. We are able to accommodate all of our guests so they are safe.
“It’s been a really scary time but we are hoping people will still be sensible.”
The Fire Pit Camp and Venue, based in Wendling, near Dereham, is also gearing up to open its site on July 16.
Since lockdown, the campsite, which is four acres in size, has been closed except for essential maintenance.
Co-owner Sarah Hughes-Wade, with Rachel Hughes-Green, said: “We’ve been working closely with couples who had booked our site for their wedding so that we can move their dates and accommodate them in 2021. Whilst there has been a few tears, the stoicism overall has been amazing.”
Ms Hughes-Green added: “We will obviously be reducing numbers into the site so that government guidelines can be adhered to, so for the time being we will only be taking group bookings of ’bubbles’ and other Covid-safe guidelines. This ensures there is plenty of space for socially distanced accommodation.”
Marcus Seaman and Amelia Nicholson, owners of The Bell in Brisley, near Dereham, confirmed they would also be opening on July 4.
Ms Nicholson said: “Enquiries and bookings are coming in thick and fast, which is fantastic and we’re now in the process of ensuring all our customers and staff will feel safe and protected whilst here.
“The garden looks great, there’s plenty of space and we can’t wait to see everyone.”
They received 32 email enquires in less than 10 minutes after Boris Johnson’s announcement, and 24 bookings within the hour.
The Crown, in Reepham, run by current licensees Glen and Lisa Mallett, also confirmed it would be opening again.
In a Facebook post, it said: “We will be opening on Saturday, July 4, at 12pm.
“However, as you can imagine, your experience is going to be a little different.
“[We] will be posting details of the guidelines, along with our temporary opening times in due course.
“Looking forward to seeing you all.”
Paul Sandford, landlord at The Railway Tavern, Dereham, said preparations for reopening had kept him busy during lockdown.
“We have had a total revamp of our chip shop with the layout changed completely to make a safe environment for staff and customers alike,” he said.
“We have added a new dining area adhering to all social distances rules and we plan to reopen on July 4.
“We have a separate entrance and exit for both the chip shop and pub, all clearly signed and marked. All staff will wear PPE with protective screens up in serving areas. There will be cleansing stations at the entrances with antibacterial sprays available around the premises too.”
The Tavern has undergone a full health and safety and risk assessment, and there will be “strict rules” and door supervisors in place.
He added: “We will be opening the bar up on Saturday purely on a trial basis, which we are a bit apprehensive about.
“We are relying a lot on common sense of amazing customers, who I’m sure are all desperate for a nice cold pint.”