Town braced for 'bumper summer season' post-lockdown
- Credit: Mick Howes
Lowestoft could have "a bumper summer season" - but only if people keep sticking to Covid-19 guidelines.
That's the message from businesses, a council leader and town mayor as they welcomed the prime minister's roadmap to recovery.
It is hoped that a staycation surge will provide a welcome boost to tourism in the East Suffolk town.
Steve Gallant, leader of East Suffolk Council, said: “The announcement by the Prime Minister about the easing of restrictions is the news we’ve all been waiting for and the clearest indication yet that the vaccination programme is our best route out of the pandemic.
"So, I would implore everyone who is offered the vaccine to take it, and for those waiting hopefully to be patient as the first dose is administered to priority groups.
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“However, we are by no means out of the woods yet and it is vitally important that we follow the guidelines that will remain in place for some time yet.
"It feels like we are really close to a return to normal but, even as vaccines are delivered, this won’t happen if we don’t continue to obey social distancing, mask wearing rules and of course, washing our hands.
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“I am excited about what this summer could bring for us and the opportunities that await our communities and businesses after such a difficult year – but we must be led by the data rather than dates and if we want the situation to improve, we cannot blow it now.”
Alan Green, the mayor of Lowestoft, said: “The Town Council is hopeful the Government’s roadmap will safely progress.
"This roadmap and the continuation of the successful vaccination programme should enable us to re-open outdoor free sports and leisure facilities, officially launch The Ness, hold markets at The Triangle, and resume commemoratory and celebratory events.
"We will also develop projects which improve the quality of life in Lowestoft and look to a much brighter future.”
Management at Moss and Co - which runs six venues across the area at The Angel Inn at Wangford, The Bell Inn in Carlton Colville, The Commodore in Oulton Broad, The Jolly Sailors in Pakefield, The Village Maid in Lound and The Waveney in Oulton Broad - are also progressing plans.
Andrew Rogers, part of the management group at Moss and Co, said: "Hopefully the end goal of 'normality' on June 21 is achieved and we can trade at full capacity after the most challenging 12 months we have ever experienced.
"We will aim to open the pubs which have substantial beer gardens first so that we are able to offer outside dining from April 12 in line with government guidelines.
"We are currently exploring a few design ideas so that we are able to cope with all eventualities whilst meeting consumer demand.
"We invested on indoor renovations during the previous lockdowns so we have been using this lockdown to concentrate on improving our gardens to create outdoor dining experiences for all to enjoy.
"We aim to commission custom made waterproof canopies at most of our sites to cope with the expected popularity of alfresco dining."
Having managed to "maintain all" of their team during lockdown by having 150 staff on furlough, Mr Rogers said: "We are grateful that we have been able to preserve the jobs of our beloved team and we cannot wait to have them back for what we know will be a bumper summer season.
"For our pubs that do not have adequate garden space to open in April, we will endeavour to re-open these as per government guidelines from May 17.
"We are beyond excited to open our doors again, for both our loyal customers and valued team."
Matthew Goddard, managing director of Picture Studios in Lowestoft town centre and Ber Street in Norwich, said: "I’m certainly excited that we now have a date we can work towards reopening.
"This third lockdown has hit hard, the dent made with all the closures on the high streets both in Lowestoft and Norwich is very evident and we still have yet another month-and-a-half to go.
"Picture Studios however isn’t going anywhere and we plan to be on the high street for many years to come."