'We won't discriminate' - Town businesses prepare for mask changes

Colin Johnson, owner of the Tudor Tea Room.

Colin Johnson, owner of the Tudor Tea Room. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

Fakenham businesses say they are ready to make things as comfortable as possible for customers as they prepare for July 19.

With the latest date on the coronavirus roadmap out of lockdown dropping the legal restrictions of mask-wearing indoors, the prime minister said they would be continued to be advised in in-door spaces.

In the market town, business owners say they are prepared to carry on wearing face coverings from Monday, offering the choice to their customers if they wish to wear a mask or not.

Pets Paradise opens in Fakenham. The shop is a life long dream of the owner Siven Cook who believes

Owner of Pets Paradise, Siven Cook, said he will respect everyone choices. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

At Pets Paradise, Siven Cook said not much will change come Monday, except people can make their own choices over wearing a mask. He also said the cleaning products will stay as it is good practice, especially around the animals.

Mr Cook is saying the most important thing now is to make sure we all respect each other’s choices.

“If someone wants me to wear my mask then I will be happy to do so,” he said.

Pets Paradise opens in Fakenham. The shop is a life long dream of the owner Siven Cook who believes

Siven Cook said he will continue to wear a mask if customers ask him too - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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“Vaccinated or unvaccinated, mask or no mask, we will respect everyone who comes through our door.

“I think it is very important that we all do that coming out of this, we all have our own anxieties and worries so let’s help each other.”

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Across at The Larder, shop assistant Mark Greenaway said he was looking forward to the day he could stop wearing his mask, but is happy to continue.

“I would love to be able to take my mask off but it is just going to depend on the customer, if they want to take their mask off, we will, if people want us to wear the mask then we are more than happy to,” he said.

“We won’t be discouraging people from coming in, mask or no mask, vaccine or no vaccine. We won’t discriminate.”

“I’m a little disappointed as I was looking forward to coming to work without a mask and all this to be gone, but sadly it hasn’t and we will continue on as best we can.”

The Larder on Norwich Street in Fakenham.

The Larder on Norwich Street in Fakenham. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

A couple of doors down from The Larder is The Tudor Tea Room. Colin Johnson, owner, said he will keep his PPE on when the cafe is busy.

“If we are crowded we will still wear our face-covering and masks and still have our hand gel, but we will leave it for people to make their own minds up,” he said.

Colin Johnson, owner of the Tudor Tea Room.

Colin Johnson, owner of the Tudor Tea Room. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

“We won’t discriminate, whether mask or no mask.

“If they are not comfortable they can wear a mask if they wish, I will still have my face shield.

“I think we will still give as much space as we can for the time being. We want to add another four or five chairs back in here, but we will do that gradually, but not from Monday.”

The Tudor Tea Room, on Norwich Street in Fakenham. Picture: Aaron McMillan

The Tudor Tea Room, on Norwich Street in Fakenham. Picture: Aaron McMillan - Credit: Archant

At Bailey Bird and Warren, Nick Bird, estate agent, said the business will continue to be sensible, as not much will change.

“There will not be many changes to what we have been doing for the last 15 months," he said.

"We will continue to the best of our ability.

Nick Bird, director at Bailey Bird & Warren in Fakenham.

Nick Bird, director at Bailey Bird & Warren in Fakenham. - Credit: Nick Bird

“We will continue the good routines, like lateral flow tests, keep hand sanitiser handy and socially distance where we can.

“We will meet the needs of our customers, if they want us to wear a mask then we will be happy to, if they do not wear a mask then we have no issue with that.

“It is a matter of living sensibly, all we can do is carry on being sensible. We have not caught the virus during all this time, and we don’t want to start now.”

Bailey Bird & Warren estate agent on Bridge Street.

Bailey Bird & Warren estate agent on Bridge Street. - Credit: Google Maps

What happens on July 19?

Most Covid restrictions officially end from Monday despite rapidly rising levels of cases.

Masks will no longer be required by law. But the government says it "expects and recommends" that people wear them indoors, in crowded areas and on public transport. 

Supermarket chains also say they will ask staff and customers to continue to wear them, along with Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health.

While the two-metre social distancing rule will end, the government said people should limit the close contact they have with those they do not usually live with.

The so-called rule of six also ends and there will no longer be limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and other life events.

Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars will no longer be required by law to provide table service or follow other social distancing rules. But government guidance says they should continue to do so.

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