No stampede to the bar as pubs and bars re-open to serve inside

vaccine queue

People queue to be vaccinated at the Alive Corn Exchange in King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

Almost the only queue in King's Lynn was in the Tuesday Market Place, where people lined up to wait for their vaccine jabs at the Alive Corn Exchange.

Elsewhere, the town was quiet and there was no stampede to the bar as pubs and restaurants opened to seated customers for the first time in almost five months.

At the 12th Century White Hart Stores on St James Street, landlord Neal Durose was optimistic people would return to the pub, which is one of the town's few live music venues.

Neal Durose

Neal Durose, landlord of the White Hart Stores in King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

"Most people have been vaccinated, the cases in this area have plummeted since the  vaccine was dished out and I don't think the Indian variant is going to cause that many problems in this neck of the words," he said.

"As long as people are sensible I don't see why we can't continue our way out on the other side."

Mr Durose said live acts have been booked at the pub from early July. "We're desperate to bring a little more life back into the town," he added.

On Tower Street, the Soul Food Cafe has had a socially-distanced makeover, with tables spaced inside and an outdoor seating area with murals reflecting its Caribbean theme.

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"We feel like now is a brilliant time to welcome back the public," said general manager Warren Dunn. "We've re-arranged the rear garden with the gazebos for safety and shelter. Customer protection and safety is our 100pc priority right now."

Warren Dunn

Warren Dunn, general manager of the Soul Food Cafe on Tower Street in King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

While the cafe has been closed, the kitchens remained busy with staff cooking up 500 free meals for NHS workers and police, while staff have kept in touch with customers via social media and offered to deliver food.

The Corn Exchange Cinema has reopened, with Peter Rabbit being screened twice daily (4.30pm, 6.30pm). Social distancing is in operation and customers enter and leave using a difference entrance to those attending for their Covid jabs.

West Norfolk council has released a video showing how businesses in the area have prepared for reopening.

Scenes of Downham Market town centre at midday on Monday, May 17.

Scenes of Downham Market town centre at midday on Monday, May 17. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

Most shops in Downham Market's shops are now open. Looking through windows along the high street you could see a sense of normality return with people sat in barber shop or optician chairs, or having a bite to eat at the Whalebone or Sunshine Cafe.

Downham Bus Shelter was notably busy with people sat on every bench with their shopping, waiting for the bus.

'We're open' and 'welcome back' signs are on display through the town.