A warning for Great Yarmouth - How a deeper lockdown hit this UK seaside town
- Credit: James Bass/David Perkins/Unsplash
‘Pull together and support each other’ - that’s the message from a seaside town that mirrors Great Yarmouth and is living with deeper lockdown restrictions.
Summer-reliant Southport is Yarmouth’s north westerly counterpart - on the opposite side of the country, around the same size, with similar issues, and a reliance on the visitor economy.
Cancelled events like an air show and flower show have hit many seaside businesses that may not survive a second wave.
And in the last week the family resort in the north west has seen extra lockdown restrictions as it sits surrounded by seven of the most infected areas in the country.
Households there can no longer mix or create bubbles inside and out, and people are being told to use public transport only when absolutely necessary.
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On a dreary Tuesday the effect on its main tourism and shopping thoroughfare Lord Street is clear - raising the spectre the same could happen in Yarmouth where rates have almost trebled in the last week and a huge intervention has been rolled out to reinforce Covid rules.
Journalist Andrew Brown, who runs online publication Stand Up For Southport, said the town had been hard hit.
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“The numbers are just shooting up,” he said.
“Some places are having to shut because they have a case of Covid, others are doing so voluntarily because they see the virus risk and are struggling to stay open because not enough people are coming through the doors.
“The hospitality sector has been massively hit.
“During Eat Out to Help Out every table was taken. Now with the new restrictions restaurants are empty.
“Coming up to Christmas it should be busy.
“It is difficult for them to carry on.”
For those closing, there was a “batten down the hatches” mentality, with many hoping to survive the second wave.
Mr Brown said the seaside fairground had hoped to claw back some of its losses with later winter openings.
Howard Lloyd, manager at Punch Tarmey’s in Lord Street, the hub of the resort, said on a rain-lashed Tuesday it was noticeably quiet.
He said people were being cautious and were put off by the multiple stages involved in going into a pub and ordering a drink due to restriction measures.
“It’s been slow. The new restrictions do not help us at all,” he said.
“People are like ‘what are the rules’? They are changing every week.
“We have to enforce them and a lot of people are unaware of the guidelines.
“If you see people moving from one table to another you have to stop them.
“That’s how it has to be.”
John Pugh, whose council ward includes the centre of Southport, urged people in Yarmouth “to pull together and support each other”.
“That means where possible to shop locally and patronise local venues when it is safe to do so,” he said.
“We all have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and seaside towns have the spirit, but not always the resources, to do that.”
He said he was concerned the impact would be severe in the long term but there had not been a complete blanket ending of everything since the extra restrictions had come in.
“It’s a muddied picture. People are struggling to come to terms with the government restrictions and the extra ones.
“Of those that understand some people accept, them and some people question them.”
Meanwhile John Nicoll, who runs the Southport Hub Facebook page, said people were fed up with the restrictions and the majority of them were still going out and doing the same as they were two weeks ago.
“I know what the rules are,” he said.
“But my parents don’t. They just do what they feel comfortable with.”
A joint statement issued by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority in combination with Sefton Council, Liverpool City Council, Knowsley Council, Wirral Council Halton Council and St Helens Council, said the new restrictions “made the already perilous situation for our economy even tougher than it already is.
It went on: “We all understand why further restrictions may be needed to halt the spread of Covid-19 in the communities we represent.
“But we also know that at the same time they will deal a hammer blow to our economy and in particular to our vital hospitality and leisure sector, on which over 50,000 jobs depend across our region.
“We want to send a message to those businesses that we understand the pain you are going through, your fight to survive and that we stand with you.
“We have made it clear to the Government that with new restrictions must come a comprehensive package of financial support for our economy and that this is particularly urgent for businesses in your sector, many of which have already reached breaking point.”
Yarmouth on a knife edge
In Yarmouth the situation has been described as being at a tipping point which could go either way.
Currently there are just under 95 cases per 100,000 at 94.6 for the seven days up to October 2.
Gorleston’s James Paget Hospital has confirmed it is treating three patients with the virus.
At Norfolk County Council deputy director of public health Diane Steiner said: “The rate of positive cases in Great Yarmouth is higher than we want it to be.
“Together with our partners across Great Yarmouth, we are focusing our efforts on putting measures in place to disrupt the transmission of the virus, and we continue to monitor the data on a daily basis.
“We are not yet at the point of having greater restrictions, and we want to get that rate down.
“That’s why we need everyone to act now and work together to protect Great Yarmouth. People living and working in the Great Yarmouth area have a really important part to play – we are appealing to everyone to be extra careful in following the advice.
“We must act together to protect ourselves, protect others and protect Great Yarmouth.”
The advice is:
• Keep your distance from others
• Follow the rule of six
• Keep washing your hands
• Cover your face when this is required.
• It is absolutely crucial to stay at home if you have symptoms and only leave to get a test
• You should get a test if you have symptoms – a temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of taste or smell.