Fair rescheduled after council calls it off due to 'Covid flood' on coast

Hembsy village sign

The fair was due to take place on July 25th at Hemsby Village Hall but has been rescheduled to August 22nd - Credit: Adrian S Pye (cc-by-sa/2.0)

An antique fair cancelled at the last minute due to a "Covid flood" on Norfolk's east coast has found a new date — and can go ahead later this month.

PACT Animal Sanctuary's Norwich store manager, John Watson, organised the Antiques and Collectors Fair — with offerings from 35 dealers — for July 25 in Hemsby Village Hall and Social Club.

John Watson, manager at PACT animal sanctuary on Norwich Lanes

John Watson, manager at PACT animal sanctuary on Norwich Lanes - Credit: Sarah Burgess

But Great Yarmouth Borough Council forced the event's cancellation at short notice, saying the hall needed to be used for mobile testing units due to a surge in Covid cases in the area.

The rescheduled event is taking place on August 22, from 8.30am-3.30pm.

Mr Watson said: "We had the event planned for a year, but there was just such a massive flood of Covid cases locally the council had no choice but to ask us to postpone it.

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"There was no time to get the word out, so we had 2-300 people turn up on the day expecting the fair but finding a Covid testing site instead.

Hemsby Village Hall

The fair is due to be held at Hemsby Village Hall - Credit: Google Maps

"They cancelled a car boot sale and a Norfolk Day event as well. The situation was pretty serious."

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A Great Yarmouth Borough Council spokeswoman said the council instructed venue owners to liaise with organisers and ask them to cancel or postpone events in light of the infection rates in the surrounding villages.

But she said there was no reason why the fair would need to be cancelled a second time.

"Unless there was exceptional circumstances relating to public health, there's no reason why the event cannot proceed as planned", she said.

"Any decision to postpone again would be made by Norfolk Public Health and other agencies, if required."

Mr Watson, whose PACT shop on Norwich Lanes has been "inundated" since reopening after lockdown, said it was a shame the charity had lost money on the cancelled event — but that he was confident enough loyal customers would turn up to make the day worthwhile.

Shoppers browsing the designer clothing rail at PACT Animal Sanctuary

Shoppers browsing the designer clothing rail at PACT Animal Sanctuary - Credit: Sarah Burgess

"People love the antique fair", he said. "We get holidaymakers coming from all over who have seen it advertised online.

"It would be great to see as many people as possible there this year. All the money from our stall goes back towards PACT animal sanctuary and wildlife rescue."

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