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James Wild: face coverings, Eat Out to Help Out, Great Northern and True's Yard

The latest column from the North West Norfolk MP during the pandemic period, Friday, July 31, 2020

What’s your style - floral, spotted, striped or plain?

Face coverings come in all shapes and sizes. I had my football kit mask on as I went shopping at the weekend in Lynn and around and most shoppers were following the rules that wearing them mandatory. This is part of giving people confidence to support local businesses.

Face masks on sale at Castle Costumes in King's Lynn
Face masks on sale at Castle Costumes in King's Lynn

Judging by the roads and my attempts to book a campsite, visitors are returning to North West Norfolk to enjoy our spectacular coastline and countryside. Last week I joined some of them to watch the mesmerising scenes at RSPB Snettisham as the fast-flowing incoming tide pushes birds from the mudflats and they fill the sky – glistening in the sunshine.

As well as the magic of mother nature, heritage is a huge part of West Norfolk’s appeal.

I was unable to attend the official re-opening of True’s Yard after lockdown as Parliament was sitting, so I was grateful to Dr Paul Richards for taking me around the museum on Tuesday and sharing his knowledge and stories about the North End characters.

Encouraging visitors to come and discover Lynn’s heritage will be an important part of our economic recovery.

The hospitality sector has been hit hard by Covid-19 and now is the time to help it bounce back. On Monday, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme starts to help restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bars. At participating venues there is a 50 per cent discount on food or non-alcoholic drinks up to a maximum of £10 discount per diner. This applies every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in August.

According to the latest figures 3,269 businesses affected by Covid-19 have benefitted from government grants totalling £37.9 million.

However, businesses that have not received support continue to contact me. A discretionary grant scheme that I pressed for was introduced to help such firms and the second round of applications is open. But check now if your firm may qualify as the deadline is August 6.

As more attractions reopen people need to be able to be able to use public transport and guidance has now changed to make clear that people can use trains and buses.

During the pandemic passenger numbers on trains fell to five per cent of their normal capacity. I spoke to Great Northern’s managing director this week who updated me on the steps they have taken to ensure journeys are Covid secure.

He also confirmed that everything is on track for the introduction of eight car trains from December.

As we enjoy the summer safely it is essential to remain vigilant. The risk of local outbreaks is real as we have seen in Leicester and other places. In Europe there are signs of second wave. By following the guidance, we can all play our part in helping to keep the virus under control.

Finally, I offer my congratulations to Ian Culverhouse and Adam Marriot for their well-deserved awards after a great season for the Linnets. The less said about the Canaries the better.

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