Planning underway to deliver 'Covid-secure' King's Lynn Mart
Organisers of one of Lynn’s biggest annual events have vowed to do all they can to make sure it can go ahead.
Planning is underway for the historic Mart, which traditionally brings the fun of the fair to the Tuesday Market Place in February.
But the 2021 event is likely to feel very different from 2020’s, which took place before the coronavirus crisis took hold here.
West Norfolk Council officials have confirmed they are asking the fair's operators to bring forward their safety proposals for the event earlier than normal, because of the continuing restrictions relating to the pandemic.
However, leaders of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain, the body which represents travelling funfair operators, have expressed their hope that the show will still be able to go on, following recent talks.
Charles Barwick, chairman of the Guild’s Eastern section, said: “These are very uncertain times that are throwing up many restrictions.
“But we are committed to working to the Government guidelines that are in place at the time of the 2021 Mart.
“We have a duty of care to the public and the Showmen and we will make sure that we can offer a safe and Covid secure environment for everyone to enjoy themselves.
“We are looking forward to working closely with the council and, with their support, we hope the Mart will go ahead.”
Dating back to the reign of King John, the Mart traditionally marks the beginning of the Showmen’s year and, like many sectors, they have faced disruption this year because of the pandemic.
But, while concerns have been raised by some Scottish politicians about their plight, Mr Barwick said members were fortunate in being able to operate once the lockdown restrictions were partially eased.
He added: "Many of our Showmen have been successful in getting open during this summer season - all of them working strictly to the Government guidelines.
"We have had many good reports back from the public who have been happy to attend and have said it's nice to get a bit of normality back in their lives."
A West Norfolk Council spokesman said: “Discussions with the Showmen's Guild are ongoing to ensure that they can work within the current Coronavirus guidance, with allowances to react to any changes that may occur.
“The Guild are required to present their Event Safety Plan six weeks prior to the opening day and have been encouraged, given the current circumstances, to submit it sooner.
"This plan is then considered by the Public Event Safety Advisory Group (PESAG) who are made up of the blue-light services and other key stakeholders.
"Feedback from the PESAG is then passed to the Guild to ensure that any matters of concern can be adequately addressed prior to the event.”