'We've learned a lot' - Fakenham businesses prepare to live with Covid

Fakenham market day and town centre. Picture: MATTHEW USHER

Fakenham market day and town centre. Picture: MATTHEW USHER - Credit: Archant

Boris Johnson has announced plans for ‘Freedom Day’ to go ahead as we learn to live with Covid - but what happens now to businesses?

In a press conference on Monday evening, the prime minister said mainstays of the guidance such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing will become personal choice rather than the rules.

The decision on whether or not to go ahead with 'Freedom Day' on July 19 will be taken a week earlier.

People wear a mask as they leave a shop amid the gradual lifting of restrictions to ease out of lock

Face coverings in shops and other circumstances will no longer be a mandatory requirement in England from July 19, if the planned easing goes ahead. - Credit: PA

It is the latest twist in a rollercoaster journey for businesses since the pandemic began more than 16 months ago.

But what changes can we expect in our town’s shops and restaurants?

When we hit the high street will it be as before? Can we party like it's 2019 in the pub? And are hand sanitisers and masks here to stay?


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We spoke to businesses in Fakenham to ask how they will be living with Covid come July 19.

Mujibar Rahman, known as Diego, in the Fakenham Tandoori PICTURE: Matthew Farmer

Mujibar Rahman, known as Diego, in the Fakenham Tandoori PICTURE: Matthew Farmer - Credit: Archant

Mujibur ‘Diego’ Rahman, owner of Fakenham Tandoori, said hand sanitiser will remain in place at his door, while staff will continue wearing face masks. He would also encourage his customers to do the same, but said it will come down to them.

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“We don’t want the infection rate jumping up again,” he said.

“We won’t force anyone but the guidelines will still be in place in some way for the staff. It is because it is at the back of our minds, the pandemic happened and the virus is still here.

Fakenham Tandoori on Holt Road. 

Fakenham Tandoori on Holt Road. - Credit: Google Maps

“We won’t be forcing our customers to wear masks, but staff will keep it going until we feel happy enough that we have the breathing space back.”

Owner of Gatsby's Barbers and Ladies Salon in Fakenham, Carol McCubbin. Picture: Carol McCubbin

Owner of Gatsby's Barbers in Fakenham, Carol McCubbin. - Credit: Archant

Gatsby barbers on Bridge Street reopened in April, and owner Carol McCubbin is thankful for the support she received from customers upon her return.

One legacy from the pandemic for her will be her appointment system staying in place.

When it comes to PPE, she said that is down to her staff and customers.

Carol McCubbin was thankful for all the support she received from the public.

Carol McCubbin was thankful for all the support she received from the public. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

“I think we have learnt a lot from the pandemic,” she said.

“Mask wearing will be the clients' and staff choice, if the government says it’s not mandatory. If the customer feels safer with both ourselves and them wearing masks then we will be happy to accommodate.

“As long as I have my loyal customers I’ll adapt to whatever the government enforce. I’m still so humbled by the support and adjustments my clients have already made."

Gatsby's Barbers and Ladies Salon in Fakenham, Picture: Carol McCubbin.

Gatsby's Barbers in Fakenham - Credit: Archant

At the Sculthorpe Aviator, Cara Green and Christopher Brown are hopeful that they can finally start their ownership without the disruptions they have faced in their first 16 months of business.

The pair opened the pub in March 2020, just fifteen days before they were told to close because of the pandemic.

Mask wearing will not be enforced, but many other measures will remain in place until the end of the year.

Co-owner of the Sculthorpe Aviator in Fakenham, Cara Green. Picture: Cara Green

Co-owner of the Sculthorpe Aviator in Fakenham, Cara Green. Picture: Cara Green - Credit: Archant

“As long as everyone is being sensible and are aware of their surroundings then I don't think we need masks anymore,” Mrs Green said.

“With the weather getting warmer, it is getting harder and harder to breathe in masks while rushing about.

“Most people have had at least one vaccine now which makes me feel safer in this industry.”

“As for distancing, we will be keeping our distancing regulations for the rest of this year. Tables will be at least one metre apart unless they are back to back. Table service will remain in place even though it's difficult to manage outside.

“Will definitely keep sanitiser, with stations and bottles on every table."

Crafty Ones on Norwich Street in Fakenham.

Crafty Ones on Norwich Street in Fakenham. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

At Crafty Ones on Norwich Street, co-owner Angie Waterson said staff will still be continuing as if the guidelines are in place, with many Covid measures staying in the shop for the time being, including hand sanitiser at the door.

“Masks will carry on being worn by staff until we feel fit for them to be disregarded. Ideally, we would prefer for customers to carry on wearing masks in the shop.

“We do feel apprehensive about July 19, as we feel it is too soon for this latest lockdown to be lifted as cases are still on the rise in places across the country.”

Owner of Crafty Ones in Fakenham, Alice Scourfield.

Co-owner of Crafty Ones in Fakenham, Angie Waterson, said staff will continue to wear masks, like co-owner Alice Scourfield is picture here doing. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

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