Coronavirus: How is the outbreak affecting city life?

Empty shelves and signs in shops show the impact coronavirus is already having on city life. Picture

Empty shelves and signs in shops show the impact coronavirus is already having on city life. Pictures: Archant - Credit: Archant

It's probably more talked about on the streets than Brexit, Donald Trump and the weather combined.

However, just what real life impact is the coronavirus outbreak having on the streets of Norwich - and the people who tread them on a daily basis?

The one thing that immediately leaps out is the grocery shop shelves - particularly the big names like Tesco and Sainsburys.

While many products remain in abundance as ever, gaps are noticeable in sanitation departments - tissues, hand sanitisers and toilet rolls. Some shops have even taken to rationing these products, placing limits on the numbers each customer can buy.

In Tesco branches, the same applies to long-life food products, such as dried pasta and tins of soup. Again, low on stocks and again, rationed out.

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However, on the streets themselves there is very much an air of the calm before the storm, with the city appearing to go about its every day life as normal.

There are some small subtleties that exist, particularly visible in the way people respond to one another displaying ailments. A rough sleeper huddled in a St Stephen's Street doorway with a rather heavy cough was being given quite the wide berth by passers-by - more so than one would normally give somebody sat on the floor.

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And for some businesses, the climate appears to have presented a window of opportunity like no other. The front display of Nisbets Catering Equipment, which at any other time would likely contains cooking equipment, is devoted entirely to cleaning product, accompanied by large banners reading 'time for a deep clean?'.

For The Body Shop on Castle Street, it is clear what its biggest seller has been - a single sheet of A4 is taped to the door simply reading 'sorry, hand sanitizers (sic) sold out'.

Several shops are also displaying notices provided by the NHS offering health and hygiene advice, from opticians to cafés.

There has yet to be any cases of the virus in Norwich, but it is clear if nothing else that it is has had a visible effect on the hygiene habits of city-dwellers.

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