Covid-19 timeline: How Lowestoft responded to the pandemic

The deserted Royal Plain in Lowestoft during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Back then - the deserted Royal Plain in Lowestoft during the Coronavirus lockdown in April 2020. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

With 2020 being dominated by the coronavirus crisis, it led to lockdowns, restrictions, working from home, some shops closing down and numerous events being cancelled. 

A year on, here is the first of a two-part timeline looking at how Covid-19 affected the East Suffolk area and how communities rallied round to help - featuring stories that hit the headlines in The Journal between March and June 2020.

March 2020

The first three cases of Covid were confirmed at James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

East Suffolk College and local schools closed except for children of key workers, with teaching moving online for home schooling.


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The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft and Seagull Theatre in Pakefield, as well as the town's East Coast Cinema are told to close, with future shows cancelled or rescheduled.

Lowestoft town centre during lockdown, with the Marina Theatre survival appeal poster.

Lowestoft town centre during lockdown, with the Marina Theatre survival appeal poster. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

All cafés, pubs and restaurants close except takeaways, along with nightclubs, gyms and leisure centres, while some local businesses start home delivery.

The Jolly Sailors in Pakefield. Picture: Mick Howes

The Jolly Sailors in Pakefield. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

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Community organisations in Pakefield, Lowestoft and Gunton set up helplines and groups to help others, as the ‘Home But Not Alone’ service is launched by Suffolk councils and others.

John Ward, chairman of the Pakefield Community Group. Pictures: Mick Howes

John Ward, chairman of the Pakefield Community Group. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

Waveney MP Peter Aldous reports constituents stranded in Bali, Peru, New Zealand and on Coral Princess cruise ship in Rio – with commercial flights cancelled.

The public are told to ‘Stay at home to save lives’ – the only exception being for shopping for essentials, for one hour of exercise, for medical needs and to travel to work if unable to work from home.

The first lockdown started on March 26 with sporting fixtures cancelled or postponed.

April 2020

East Coast College donates facemasks and disposable aprons to the James Paget with closed holiday parks donating surplus food to the Tribal Trust, Salvation Army and Lowestoft Foodbank.

Staff donated 270 disposable face masks, 5,500 disposable aprons and 7,000 disposable gloves to the

Staff donated 270 disposable face masks, 5,500 disposable aprons and 7,000 disposable gloves to the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as well as to Norfolk Constabulary. Photo: East Coast College - Credit: East Coast College

Coronavirus tests are rolled out to police officers, firefighters and prison staff.

Zoos including Africa Alive close.

The Thursday ‘Clap for Carers’ begins as Rainbow drawings appear in windows of homes to show thanks for the NHS.

East Suffolk Council houses dozens of rough sleepers during lockdown as empty flats at Avenue Mansions in Lowestoft are transformed to help vulnerable people during Covid.

The empty council property at Avenue Mansions on Royal Avenue in Lowestoft has been transformed to a

The empty council property at Avenue Mansions on Royal Avenue in Lowestoft has been transformed to accommodate vulnerable people. Picture: East Suffolk Council - Credit: East Suffolk Council

95 fines handed out across Suffolk to Covid rule breakers.

The North Suffolk Schools Sports and Health partnership introduces virtual school games from home to keep children active.

Key worker children from Albert Pye Primary School involved in the North Suffolk Sport & Health Part

Key worker children from Albert Pye Primary School involved in the North Suffolk Sport & Health Partnership tennis challenge. Pictures: Courtesy of Albert Pye Primary - Credit: Courtesy of Albert Pye Primary

May 2020

Latitude Festival and Lowestoft Lions August Bank Holiday Gala Day cancelled.

Suffolk firefighters train to drive ambulances during pandemic.

Lowestoft Foodbank sees 112 per cent increase in numbers needing its services in East Suffolk during the pandemic.

Volunteers at the Lowestoft Foodbank distribution centre. Picture: Ben Parish/Lowestoft Foodbank

The Lowestoft Foodbank distribution centre. Picture: Ben Parish/Lowestoft Foodbank - Credit: Ben Parish/Lowestoft Foodbank

East Suffolk PPE group makes 3,000 items of PPE for frontline staff fighting coronavirus.

Green Jack Brewery creates a new beer called Nightingale with a proportion of the sale going to the James Paget.

Lockdown rules relaxed allowing people to drive in cars to other destinations for unlimited amount of exercise.

Lowestoft Lions unites with several other Lions clubs to buy equipment for James Paget that ensure face masks worn by NHS are fitted correctly.

Illegal outdoor parties of young people are dispersed at North Denes in Lowestoft.

Local Rotarians supply £1,500 of material to make scrubs for the NHS and Doctor surgeries.

Ian Davies handing over the first consignment to staff at Bridge Road Surgery with the Presidents of

Ian Davies handing over the first consignment to staff at Bridge Road Surgery in Oulton Broad with the Presidents of the Rotary Clubs of Lowestoft East Point, Les Davies and Lowestoft South, John Denby. The President of the Lowestoft Rotary Club, John Hunt, was unavoidably absent. Picture: Lowestoft Rotary clubs - Credit: Lowestoft Rotary clubs

June 2020 

Primary and secondary schools reopen in Lowestoft for some pupils with a varied attendance rate reported.

Lowestoft Town FC awarded a Pitch Preparation Fund Grant to support clubs that have lost out on normal revenue streams.

Kingsley Healthcare secures a 12 month stockpile of PPE for the protection of its care home staff and residents.

Kingsley founders Daya and Sumi Thayan are pictured with HR Director Sarah Ferguson, Chief financial

Kingsley founders Daya and Sumi Thayan are pictured with HR Director Sarah Ferguson, Chief financial officer Ian Jarvis, Portfolio asset manager John Kelly and financial controller (revenue) Suranga Dissanayake after securing a 12 month stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the protection of its care home staff and residents. Picture: Kingsley Healthcare - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

Gatherings of people from more than one household is limited to six people outdoors.

Dental practices reopen.

Five-One taxis in Lowestoft introduced safety protection screens in its fleet of vehicles to keep staff and customers safe.

The new safety protection screens have been introduced to all vehicles at the 51 Taxis fleet. Pictur

The new safety protection screens have been introduced to all vehicles at the 51 Taxis fleet. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

Face coverings become compulsory on public transport.

Africa Alive reopens along with farms, other zoos and safari parks.

‘Clap for Carers’ ended.

Test and trace is set up in Suffolk.

Next week's edition will feature Covid-19 stories that hit the headlines between July and December 2020.

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