Norfolk traders facing less Covid disruption as Christmas build-up begins

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Published: 3:28 PM November 22, 2021

Updated: 3:55 PM November 22, 2021

Business owners say they are in a calmer phase of their coronavirus recovery, with the build-up to Christmas set to be key.

Norfolk has now passed 100,000 positive coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with case rates rising in the last week.

But traders say while they are still adapting to a new way of working, they are in a more stable phase of recovery, with incidents of staff being ‘pinged’ and having to isolate now less common.

Victoria McDonald, who runs The Cellar House in Eaton and the Old Ram Coaching Inn in Tivetshall St Mary, said: “I can’t remember the last time a member of staff was pinged, so absences have not been an issue for us in recent months.

“What has happened is that business has changed and customers’ habits have changed. The times that people come in is different and I’d say people are drinking less, but drinking better quality products.

Victoria MacDonald, who runs the Cellar House at Eaton and the Old Ram Inn at Tivetshall Saint Mary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY – Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

“People are spending more money so maybe, if they’re meeting up with people for lunch or dinner, they’re having starters and desserts, which they might not have done before.

“Some of our clubs have changed when they come in – for instance, a club which used to meet on a Saturday might now come in on Monday morning, when it’s less busy. It’s about learning to adapt to these new behaviours.”

She said she was optimistic for Christmas trade, and said they were offering more smaller tables than bigger party bookings.

“November has actually been more buoyant than it normally is. I don’t know if that’s people getting together to get ahead of Christmas,” she said.

Husband and wife team Rebecca Bishop and Steve Magnall of Two Magpies Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN – Credit: Archant

Steve Magnall, who co-owns the Two Magpies Bakery brand, which includes shops in Norwich, Holt, Blakeney and Southwold, said: “I would definitely say things are on a more even footing than they were before. It has definitely calmed down.

“We don’t seem to have so many staff testing positive and having to isolate.

“We still have control measures in place – our staff have the option as to whether or not they wear face masks and we do advise shoppers to wear face masks before taking their seats to eat.

“We will need to wait to see if there’s any spike in the next few weeks or not, but we’re hoping we won’t have the sort of situation we’re seeing in Austria.”