'Leisure will be back' - Beccles reacts to PM roadmap announcement
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A meal out, a day on the Broads and even a dip at the Lido could all be back on the cards after the prime minister set out his roadmap for easing coronavirus restrictions across England.
And businesses and people across Beccles have been reacting positively to the news that life may return to normal quicker than expected.
All schools in England will reopen on March 8, while non-essential retail, restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors from April 12.
Mary Sparrow is the director of Hippersons Boatyard, alongside her partner Simon.
Hippersons Boatyard offers self-catering holiday with houseboats, day hire and secret glamping hideaways right on the Broads national park.
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She said: "We think this is positive news for local tourism in Beccles and more widely for the Broads.
"We did not think that we would be able to open until at least May so we welcome this news.
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"From Easter weekend we will be running our day boat hire again and then from April 12, overnight boating will be allowed again."
Mary is confident that the local tourism scene across the Broads will be booming this summer.
"Advanced bookings are up and we have nothing left over the May half term.
"What is unusual is that 70 to 80 per cent of our accommodation is booked across the summer.
"We've got a great beautiful place here on the Broads and one of the positives of lockdown is that it has helped people realise what is on their doorstep.
"This will be great for the local economy."
Shaun Crowley, is the director of Beccles Lido and has welcomed the roadmap news, confirming the lido will reopen on Monday, March 29.
"We absolutely wanted to open before the Easter weekend so this is welcome news.
"The reality is we had half as many visitors last year and inevitably this has hit our income.
"The government roadmap is ambitious and it depends on whether people abide by the rules.
"We will definitely survive this because the pandemic has made us work in ways we never have before. Leisure will be back in Beccles."
Shaun Crowley is also director of Beccles Public Hall and the hall has been hosting online events as theatres can not open until May 17.
Mr Crowley said: "The public hall can not open as quickly as the lido but we have held a very successful series of online events at half term and will re-open as soon as guidelines permit us to safely do so.
"We have launched a survey for the community to tell us how they feel about returning to leisure activities and what they want to see in our programmes at the hall and the lido."
This is the link to the survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/hereforbeccles
But for restaurant owners like Kevin Wainwright, of the Graze White Horse, the announcement that pubs and restaurants can not fully open until May 17 is worrying news.
Mr Wainwright said: "Whether we can fully open in April is still up for question as this is all very weather dependent.
"If we can't provide a service to people because the weather is bad we will have a lot of left over stock which will not be good.
"We could put up a gazebo in our yard but it is unclear if this counts as indoor eating.
"More guidance for the hospitality sector from government would be helpful."
Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, councillor for Beccles, remarked the great way in which Beccles has come together to reduce rates.
She said: "This is a sensible roadmap and I hope support for businesses in Beccles from government will continue even after lockdown.
"It is clear the national lockdown has worked and locally people have been working hard across Beccles to bring rates down.
"I am hopeful this will be the last lockdown but as the PM said this will be based on data not dates."