Government's lockdown roadmap divides opinion amongst Diss businesses
Business owners from different sectors in Diss are split on the Government’s proposed plan to ease lockdown measures.
At the end of last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown roadmap, promising to reopen the economy in a four-step proses.
While a clear path out of lockdown will be welcomed across the board, some business owners felt as though restrictions should be lifted sooner.
Joanne Hearle, who runs Bressingham Beauty Salon, in Fen Street, said that she would have liked to reopen in mid-March – weeks before the scheduled opening of beauty salons on April 12 – at the earliest.
“When I first saw the announcement, I was happy,” she said. “Because at least there’s a date, and at least we have got something to work towards. But, at the same time, I feel it should really be sooner.
“They are holding up the whole industry. All hair and beauty salons are very clinical in what we do and we always keep to a very high standard of health and safety, yet it feels like we are always one of the first to close and one of the last to open.
“People are wanting to feel some normality and humanity, and I don’t blame them.”
While there is no guarantee that restrictions will be lifted on April 12, Miss Hearle said she had already begun provisionally booking customers in.
Some were not as critical of the Government’s plans; Paul Lawrence, the owner of Diss Fit Cub, a gym in Hopper Way that has also been given an opening date of April 12, said: “For me, it’s absolutely fine, subject to watching the numbers, and the infection rates over the next coming weeks.
“As far as I’m concerned, I think the Government has got it pretty much right this time.
“I can’t speak for other industries, but in terms of getting the gym ready and safe for users, it’s absolutely fine.”
For others, it was simply to early to tell. Hannah Sidgwick, who runs a clothing store, Take Two, in Mere Street, Diss, said she would play it by ear – even if that means remaining closed for longer than she has to.
“I’m really not sure,” she said. “Before, when we were coming out of the first lockdown, we thought it was too soon.
“But as long as cases are going down and it’s safe to reopen, then we will do so.
“If we are told we can reopen but we feel it isn’t safe, we will hold off.
“We did that before, because we didn’t want people flooding through the doors.
“We’ll look at the numbers in the area, but I think the Brazilian variant has also scared a lot of people.”
The four-step plan already saw schools open on Monday, with care home residents allowed one regular visitor. On March 29, six people, or two households, will be allowed to meet outdoors, and travel outside of local areas will be permitted.
Non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality and indoor leisure facilities will open on April 12 at the earliest, followed by indoor hospitality venues and the lifting of outdoor social contact rules by May 17 at the earliest.
Finally, in step four – on June 21 at the earliest – all lockdown restrictions will be lifted.