Watchlist ‘no surprise’ say community leaders after rise in cases in east Suffolk

Ron Smith, owner of the Carpet Shop in Kirkley. PHOTO: Jasper King

Ron Smith, owner of the Carpet Shop in Kirkley. PHOTO: Jasper King - Credit: Archant

A “worrying” rise in coronavirus cases in east Suffolk has prompted reminder for people to be vigilant to protect themselves and others.

London Road South, in Lowestoft. PHOTO: Jasper King

London Road South, in Lowestoft. PHOTO: Jasper King - Credit: Archant

It comes after the district, including Lowestoft and Beccles, was added to the regional watchlist on Thursday night.

In the seven days to October 7, 46 people tested positive for Covid-19, equivalent to 30.9 cases per 100,000 people, taking the cumulative number to 1,073.

Joanne Willows, from Kirkley Florist, said the rise could be a result of people travelling to the coast.

She said: “I’m not really surprised the rates are going up in Lowestoft.

Kirkley Florist. PHOTO: Jasper King

Kirkley Florist. PHOTO: Jasper King - Credit: Archant

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“I think people travelling from high coronavirus areas across the UK into the east doesn’t help so maybe there should be more restrictions around this. I don’t really see how a 10pm curfew in the town is helping.

“If another lockdown comes into effect I don’t think it will affect us much. As long as flowers are supplied to us we should be fine.

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“We had to shut for seven weeks at the beginning of the pandemic but I have a feeling we should be fine now.”

Public Health Suffolk have, however, warned the rise has come from across the community and is not specifically linked to a certain group of people or type of workplace.

Spikes have, however, been identified in Lowestoft, Beccles and Bungay.

Ron Smith, 66, owner of the Carpet Shop in Kirkley, said: “We have got to be careful.

“I’m only letting certain people in the shop at a time but while you can work you have to because the economy has to keep going.

“In the last lockdown we were shut for three months and we have a backlog to clear, so since lockdown ended and we came back we’ve been very, very busy.

“People can’t go on holiday or go out to socialise so they’re spending their money indoors.

“We have been so busy we can’t cope really, but there are winners and losers.

“We are fortunate that we are very busy but you have got people in the hospitality industry who are struggling.”

Sandra Cox, trustee of the Fisher Theatre in Bungay, said the venue was doing all they could to keep people safe.

After taking part in a major survey, theatre bosses were able to find out about customer’s concerns and address them, including offering staggered arrival times to avoid queues.

She said: “We have to wait and see what happens next.

“We have been very lucky at the theatre in that we have been able to access a number of grants to help make our building Covid-secure, and we are waiting to hear about a couple more which could see us through to next year.

“We have bought a fogging machine which allows us to disinfect everything in the auditorium from floor to ceiling in just 30 minutes, which means we could have a number of performances in one day.

“We can have no more than 40 people inside because of the spacing between seats, so revenue-wise it is not so good, but we are doing all we can for our visitors.”

David, from Antimacassar on London Road South, Lowestoft, fears further restrictions would be another blow to his business.

He said: “I was forced to shut for three months in lockdown and as a business I was severely out of pocket, losing £1,500.

“Lots of other businesses on the street were in the same position.

“I feel like putting us on the watchlist is a bit of an overexaggeration, but you just never know what is going to happen.”

Christine Wheeler, deputy mayor of Beccles, urged residents to stay vigilant.

She said: “It is awful news and really worrying for people in the area.

“People just have to be really careful and keep following the measures in place.

“I you haven’t caught it yet you must be doing something right.”

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