'The sooner we're back to normal, the better.' King's Lynn business leaders welcome plan to lift Covid restrictions, but remain cautious
Businesses in Lynn have given a cautious welcome to the government's plans to lift all remain coronavirus restrictions later this month.
Ministers intend to scrap current rules on issues such as mask wearing or social distancing from July 19, though that remains subject to a final review.
The announcement has prompted criticism from one of the country's largest trade unions, Unite, who claimed the move to end mask wearing on public transport would be "an act of gross negligence."
And Julian Patterson, managing director of the Lynn-based Lynx bus company, admitted he wouldn't be getting too excited until after the planned data review next week.
But, with services now running at around 80 per cent of normal levels, he is hopeful of a return to full operation soon.
He said: "The sooner we get back to normal it will be better for the economy.
"It's been really challenging with lack of passengers but they are coming back fairly well.
"Social distancing and masks were never an issue. Should things change some people will wear masks for their own comfort. If you do feel safer then wear a mask but it will be nice to see people's faces again."
The end of the requirement to wear masks is also likely to raise questions for people working in shops.
Bosses of the Usdaw trade union, which represents shop staff, described the plan as "too much too soon."
General secretary Paddy Lillis said: "The Government should not be weakening safety measures in shops at the same time as opening up other venues.
"There is no reason why requirements to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing in busy public areas like shops cannot continue."
But a spokesman for the Ikon fashion store in the Vancouver Quarter said he felt the change would only be positive for the high street.
He said: "Looking at the town it's been sad in a sense, we've been okay through lockdown doing orders online kept us running with help from the government.
"Easing back to normality will help push people to come back to the high street."
And one business owner who can't wait to return to something more like normal is Neal Durose, the landlord of the White Hart pub.
He said he was particularly looking forward to bringing bands back to the St James Street premises after the huge challenges posed by the pandemic.
He said: "I can't wait for life to return to normal, as long as people feel safe we can soon get back to normality. The hospitality sector has been ravaged and shrunk by 30 per cent.
"I have hung on for as long as possible but I know some pubs have had to close as they just couldn't afford to keep going as things were looking so uncertain back in February.
"Our doors are open and we are trading again. It's good news.