'Great to have a date in the diary' - Fakenham reacts to PM's roadmap

Views of Fakenham town centre taken from the tower of Fakenham Parish Church. Pictured: Fakenham Mar

Fakenham businesses and councillor have had their say on the prime minister's announcement of the ‘roadmap’. - Credit: IAN BURT

The prime minister's announcement of the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown has been met with cautious optimism by Fakenham residents.

On Monday, Boris Johnson laid out the four-step plan to bringing back normality to the country, which, if relevant tests are met, will see foreign travel allowed from mid-May and limits on social interaction dropped entirely by June 21.

Before that, all schools will reopen on March 8, while non-essential retail, restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors from April 12.

And people in the market town were pleased with the news.

Fay Dewing, owner of Sew Sweet in Fakenham, with the old-fashioned style jars of sweet favourites. P

Fay Dewing, owner of Sew Sweet in Fakenham. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Fay Dewing, who owns Sew Sweets on the Market Place, said, “It is great to have a date in the diary for when we are able to welcome back our customers.

“It's a shame that it is still another seven weeks away, however, we understand the importance of getting the easing right so we don't have to go through a lockdown like this again.”

Alie Hannam runs The Crown in Fakenham, a pub and restaurant, and said she was delighted by the announcement.

Alie Hannam, Owner of The CROWN and Bella Corona Italian Restaurant. Picture: Alie Hannam

Alie Hannam, Owner of The Crown - Credit: Archant

“I think it’s brilliant. We’ve always obeyed the rules and will continue to do so. It looks like we are all heading in the right direction," she said.

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“We have a lot of regulars that live alone. It will be nice to welcome them back.”

When asked if she was happy to wait seven weeks before she could open up again, she said: "Yes, of course. If the R rate is dropping, and everyone stays safe."

Sculthorpe Aviator landlords Christopher Brown and Cara Green are looking forward to May when they can reopen the pub’s doors, rather than just their beer garden.

Landlords Christopher Brown and Cara Green with traffic light system installed for the loos inside T

Sculthorpe Aviator landlords Christopher Brown and Cara Green - Credit: Sonya Duncan

“We are very excited for May 17 where we can welcome our customers back properly inside and outside,” they said.

“April 12 is promising for outside dining and drinks only but we only have limited space outside. On this note, we are now planning to build some cover for outside just in case the weather is not on our side.

"As for restrictions being lifted on June 21, if this means social distancing is no longer needed, this means we could introduce our missing tables back within the restaurant.

"However, to still allow our customers to feel safe. We will keep these restrictions in place for the rest of the year.”

Theatres and cinemas can also reopen in May, and Andy Lawson from Fakenham’s Central Cinema said he is fine with the wait.

Central Cinema, Fakenham

Central Cinema, Fakenham - Credit: IAN BURT

“I haven’t fully seen all the details but it is basically as expected," he said.

"I am ok with it being a cautious approach if, as expected, it proves to be the last time we have to lockdown. 

"I’ve had many messages from customers during lockdown saying they are really looking forward to getting back to supporting us and other local leisure/entertainment amenities.”

Norfolk county councillor for Fakenham, Tom FitzPatrick, was delighted to see the figures falling and the road back to normality laid out.

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick.

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

He said: “I think every single one of us must be both pleased and relieved that the Covid figures in Norfolk are falling.

"In particular, it is good that our local figures are down so very much. This has all helped with the decisions which are being made.

“I am pleased that this easing is going to be done in an evidence-based manner that uses up-to-date data and I welcome the planned return of the rule of six by the end of March.

"It is definitely a positive move that two households of any number should be allowed to meet outdoors in time for Easter.

“There has been a great team effort across the whole of our local community in supporting one another over the past difficult months.

"Let’s all continue to work together to allow lockdown to end by continuing to observe social distancing and other precautions.

"That way we can all do our bit to make sure that the lockdown can be safely lifted.”