'Pleasantly surprised' - Town reacts to PM's lockdown easing road map
- Credit: Ian Burt
Community leaders and business-owners in one Norfolk town were largely reassured by Boris Johnson’s ‘road map’ out of lockdown.
Mayor of Dereham Stuart Green said he was glad to hear that lockdown regulations are being lifted, in a "controlled manner", and pleased that children will be able to get back to school "where they can learn the best".
He added: “It’s great to finally have some dates that everyone can tentatively work towards. Non-essential retailers and hospitality can start to plan for reopening in April.
“This gives us all some hope, and if everything goes well, by the end of June we can be back to 'normal' for the summer.”
Paul Sandford, landlord of the town’s Railway Tavern, said: “I’m quite pleased to see the dates aren’t too far off, so we’ve got a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”
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Mr Sandford said he hoped to reopen for outdoor service from April, and indoors from May, adding that he was reassured by the proposed timeline: “I think it’s realistic, and the rollout of the vaccines is going well.”
Andy Sullivan, who owns Norski Noo’s Gallery in the town centre said: “My first impression is the measures announced were both measured and guarded. The cautious approach being adopted would appear to be the correct one.”
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Mr Sullivan said the main challenge would be encouraging people to shop locally again, but he praised the support available from the government and Breckland Council, saying that it “far exceeded” his expectations.
He added that reopening will bring with it “the opportunity to try and explore new offerings and approaches,” as he hopes to provide outdoor seating for those enjoying the gallery’s coffee from April onwards.
Mark Donaldson, chairman of Dereham Town Youth Football Club, said he was “pleasantly surprised” that organised sports will resume from 29 March.
“We don’t know yet what our league is going to do,” said Mr Donaldson. “I think they’re unlikely to reschedule fixtures, so it will be down to teams to schedule friendlies - that’s fine, we all will, and it ties in nicely with the Easter holidays.
“For the children, the mental health side of it is huge - and for the coaches as well. It will be good to get back out, and the weather’s improving, so hopefully we can.”