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West Norfolk tourism boss thankful business can resume after lockdown



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The boss of a West Norfolk tourism complex says he is grateful for the chance to host guests again, even though parts of the site will still be closed.

Paul Searle, managing director of the Searles Leisure Resort at Hunstanton, has welcomed the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown, which will come into effect on July 4.

The new rules, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson today, mean facilities including the resort's swimming pools, gym and indoor play area will remain shut.

Paul Searle, seen here right with West Norfolk Council deputy leader Elizabeth Nockolds, has welcomed moves to re-start the tourism industry.
Paul Searle, seen here right with West Norfolk Council deputy leader Elizabeth Nockolds, has welcomed moves to re-start the tourism industry.

But Mr Searle said the relaxation of other restrictions, particularly on social distancing, would make a big difference.

He estimated that the move to a one metre plus social distancing measure meant its catering facilities would be able to operate at around 70 per cent of their normal capacity, at least twice what would have been possible at a two metre distance.

He said: "Going from two metres to one is a massive bonus. That would have been a difficult decision economically to open.

Re-opening for business: Bosses of the Searles Leisure Resort are already gearing up to re-open on July 4.
Re-opening for business: Bosses of the Searles Leisure Resort are already gearing up to re-open on July 4.

"I feel appreciative of the fact we can re-open. We're in a lovely part of the world and hopefully people who would have come to use the pools will go to the beach and swim in the sea."

He added that he had raised the idea of whether the site's lifeguards may be able to provide cover on the beaches while the site's facilities remain closed.

Most of the resort, which employs around 200 staff, has been closed since lockdown was imposed in March, though its golf course did re-open last month. Most of the workforce has been placed on the government furlough scheme.

While guests who own caravans will be able to return, Mr Searle said they would be reducing the number of holiday units and touring pitches available to holidaymakers on safety grounds.

Additional cleaning measures will also be in place as part of a programme which he hopes will encourage would-be visitors that they can have a safe holiday, while a food delivery service which had been planned prior to lockdown will also be introduced.

He said: "People have to feel comfortable to come here."

He also thanked guests for their support in deferring bookings during the lockdown period.



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