Vigilant boat firm checking postcodes to weed out 'non-local' customers
- Credit: Visual Devotion Ltd
As open-top day boat hire resumes on the Broads, one company has moved to reassure the public there will be no "influx of tourists" on its watch.
The prime minister's lockdown roadmap said day boat hire for a local, single household or bubble could resume on March 8, with this being extended to six people or two households from March 29.
However, as fears grow over a potential "visitor storm", Herbert Woods in Potter Heigham - one of the only Broads businesses to take up the offer - stressed this would not be the case.
Sales manager James Brooks said: "I can understand why people are worried but Herbert Woods is simply following the guidance from the government and the Broads Authority on this.
"We had a BA ranger and member of Broads Beat visit us on Monday to ensure we were complying with all regulations, and they believed we were."
Fellow boat yard owner George Elliott, who is keeping his business closed, said his worry lay in difficulties enforcing the "keep local" rule. He said it made sense for all boat yards to hold off hiring out anything until March 29, when the guidance became more clear.
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A parish councillor, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he feared people might try to "get around the local rule", and that boating companies would have little incentive to prevent this.
But Mr Brooks said the company had a robust system for flagging outsiders, whereby customers provide contact numbers, addresses and postcodes so that non-local bookings can be denied. He added that Herbert Woods had a stellar reputation in the Broads and would not jeopardise that.
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The fact there had not been "a single soul at the ticket box" in the last two days showed there was little demand for this activity at the moment anyway, he explained.
"Schools went back on Monday and renters are only limited to a few hours of travel, so they can't get very far."
Norfolk Constabulary confirmed it would be conducting patrols to enforce restrictions in the area, with the Broads Beat Team out on the water most days.
A spokesperson for North Norfolk District Council said it was seeking further guidance from the BA and Trading Standards to "establish the facts around recreational boat hire".
Once clarified, it said Covid Support Officers would be visiting boat yards to offer advice.