'Stupidly busy': Warning that town is 'not open for day trips'

Cromer Pier but visitors from high coronavirus rate areas are not being encouraged.
Picture: Brita

Cromer Pier has been closed to send a message to people not to travel to the town from afar during lockdown - Credit: Archant

A council has warned North Norfolk is "not open for holidays and day trips" following reports Cromer was "stupidly busy" with people on bank holiday Monday.

Reports of queues for fish and chips, large numbers of visitors and full car parks in Cromer come as rates of coronavirus across Norfolk continue to reach record levels.

In the face of rising figures and concerns people have been travelling to the seaside town from elsewhere in Norfolk and further afield, North Norfolk District Council is urging people to stay away and act responsibly in order to protect the local population.

Liberal Democrat councillor Sarah Bütikofer. Picture: North Norfolk District Council

Liberal Democrat councillor Sarah Bütikofer. Picture: North Norfolk District Council - Credit: North Norfolk District Council

Sarah Butikofer, leader of NNDC, said it was a "huge disappointment" that people did not appear to be following government guidance to stay local.

She said the increase in cases in North Norfolk, and the county as a whole, was concerning: "We would urge people to please, please be responsible.

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"We are all desperate to go outside and go out and do things but that's not what the guidance is and otherwise we are going to be in this a long time."

She said she understood the draw of the coast and the council knew people travelled to North Norfolk from elsewhere in the county, including Norwich, but said travelling to Cromer or other coastal towns in the current situation was not responsible.

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"We decided to close the pier to send a strong signal - we don't close the pier lightly. North Norfolk is not open for holidays and day trips right now."

She added: "We are really all in this together, whether we like it or not because our hospital beds are all tied together."

Queues outside No1 in Cromer December 29 2020

Queues at No 1 Fish and Chip shop in Cromer. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

Looking ahead to New Year's Eve and Day, Mrs Butikofer warned people to follow guidance and stay local by visiting a nearby park instead of travelling to the coast.

She said: "We all need to look forward to a better new year next year and to be able to share it with the ones we love and care about we need to take responsibility now or sadly there will be spaces next year and that's a really sombre, horrible message at this time of year but sadly it's the truth."

One woman who lives in Cromer and did not wish to be identified said the town had been "stupidly busy" on December 28, with a large number of visitors and tourists. 

She said the cliff path between Cromer and neighbouring Overstrand had also been "packed with people" and that compared to the first lockdown Cromer, the large numbers of visitors was "unnerving".

Martin Rodwell, owner of the Breakers Café at Cromer, with his traffic light entry system. Picture:

Martin Rodwell, owner of the Breakers Café at Cromer, with his traffic light entry system. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Martin Rodwell, the owner of Breakers Cafe in Garden Street, echoed Mrs Butikofer's concerns. He said he had seen large queues outside fish and chip shops and people "not respecting" social distancing on December 28.

He said: "On bank holiday Monday it was ridiculous, the number of people wandering around."

He said he believed a large number of people in the town were staying in holiday homes: "I would never expect at this time of year to have a problem parking in the town. Currently, you can't find a parking space on the non-restricted parking roads, they're all full up."

Mr Rodwell, who opened his cafe on Boxing Day to serve takeaways, said he did not blame businesses for opening because he understood the financial pressures many faced.

He said: "Morally, I want to shut, that's the right thing to do but financially I can't afford to do so. We're very much between a rock and a hard place."

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Galton Blackiston who owns No1 in Cromer - Credit: Archant

Galton Blackiston, the owner of No1 Cromer, a fish and chip shop in New Street, said his premises was doing all it could to keep people safe and was used to operating under lockdown restrictions.

"All I can say is that we do police [the queue] as best we can. At the end of the day, it's up to the general public to use their common sense, nobody wants people queueing on top of each other," he said.

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