How did King's Lynn businesses find first day of new face coverings rules?
When non-essential shops were allowed to reopen their doors to customers last month, shoppers and staff alike had to get accustomed to the 'new normal', with social distancing, protective screens at till points and hand sanitiser aplenty.
And as of today, stricter rules are in place which make it compulsory to wear face coverings in shops – although there are a number of exemptions, including shop staff and young children under the age of 11 who are not required to wear them.
So, how did businesses in Lynn town centre feel today, on the first day of the new rules?
'Early days yet but everyone seems aware'
At Youngsters World in Norfolk Street, owner and manager Paul Sanderson said everyone who had gone into the shop today had been wearing a face covering.
"We've not had to say to anybody to put one on," Mr Sanderson said.
He said, if anything, they have had to remind customers that there is a hand sanitiser station at the front of the store for them to use.
"It's early days yet but what I have seen so far suggests that everyone is aware," he added.
"Tomorrow is usually our busier day so that will be when we find out what's going on."
Trade at Youngsters World has been "all right" in the past few weeks, Mr Sanderson said, and, in particular, prams have been a bestseller.
The shop now offers hour-long appointments for customers to come and 'try out' prams before buying – which are bookable via their website.
"It's all sectioned off and cleaned after anyone has been in there," Mr Sanderson added.
"We've been doing those since 1st June, two weeks before we opened again fully, and we've been booked up ever since.
"People have been coming from Norwich, Yarmouth and Peterborough for those as it's difficult for pregnant women, as they want to go in and play around with the prams before they buy, so they go in there and can have a one-to-one appointment."
Simon Dye, owner of Norbury's Fine Foods, which has recently moved from Tower Street to a larger premises on the corner of Norfolk Street and High Street, agreed that it had "not been a problem" with face masks so far.
He said: "I think they have been good with the masks – there's been a few occasions when partners of customers have reminded them to put on their masks but it's not been a problem."
The delicatessen, which offers foods such as local cheeses, freshly baked breads and cakes, is hoping to open its seating area which has capacity for 56 seats to customers in September.
'They have all got them with them but sometimes forget to put them on'
Meanwhile Amanda Arterton, of Arterton's furniture business on High Street, said she had reminded some people to put their face coverings on when they came into her store.
"They have all got them with them, but they probably just forget to put them on," she said.
Mrs Arterton said she felt today had been a quieter day, but she said this was in line with what she had seen in previous weeks on Fridays and not necessarily a direct result of the new masks rules.
She said her busiest days tend to be Mondays to Thursdays.
Jaine Button, of Jaine's Gift Box, also on High Street, said she felt it was quieter in town today as well and wondered if some people may have avoided the shops because of the need to wear face coverings.
"Maybe people are a bit wary about wearing masks all day long," she said.
But Mrs Button added that those who had gone into her shop today had all face masks on.
"We've had no problems, everyone's coming in with a mask. It definitely seems like everyone's accepted it," she added.
Mrs Button said recent trade had been "really good" and "better than I expected".
Like a lot of others, her shop is now equipped with protective screens at the tills, one-way system markers on the floor and hand sanitiser.
"It's more a case of making the customers feel comfortable – if they are happy they will come back," she said.
'Independents are doing very well'
And at Ikon, on New Conduit Street, manager Sasha Inns agreed that there had been "no problems" with face masks so far.
She echoed others' sentiments about diversifying her business during the coronavirus lockdown.
Ikon's trade has been "booming" online over the last few months, she said, and customers have been supportive since non-essential businesses like hers were able to reopen last month.
"It's actually been a lot better than I thought," she said.
"Customers have been lovely, because we've been in lockdown for so long, I think people like to talk.
"And because we are an independent we can spend a bit more time on that."
Miss Inns said it was nice to return to a "bit of normality".
"Independents are generally doing very well compared to the bigger chain stores," she said.
"Bigger chains have to cover all the staff, whereas at an independent like ours, there's me the manager and one member of staff.
"Also our stock turnover is very quick. We're doing fine, and hopefully that will continue and things will pick up."
Another business owner who is hoping for things to pick up, is Ian Ashford, owner of Castle Costumes in Norfolk Street.
He said, with parties and events not yet at the stage they were prior to lockdown, he has had to reduce his working days and hours.
The shop is now open 10am to 3pm Wednesday to Saturday.
"Until people have parties again, it's going to be fairly quiet," Mr Ashford said.
"It's the nature of the beast if there's no parties on. I'm hopeful for Halloween, so September onwards – I'm feeling positive about it."
He said he had plans to mark 15 years of the business this month, but it would not be the "big event" he had envisioned.
"I've just got to ride the tide and weather the storm, as they say," he added.
One thing Castle Costumes is now selling which is proving popular is a range of humourous face masks.
"The masks came in today, I've got a selection of funny face masks to cheer people up, I have sold a fair few of those today and I have more coming in," Mr Ashford added.
More by this authorRebekah Chilvers
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