Omicron - How it impacts region, local shops and public transport
- Credit: Denise Bradley
Local shops have welcomed the news that mandatory face mask coverings will be re-introduced tomorrow (Tuesday, November 30), with a local bus company saying they will continue to 'encourage' customers to wear face coverings.
Jackie Bell has owned Bell's of Suffolk on Bungay's Earsham Street for 17 years and has welcomed the news that face masks will be mandatory in shops once again.
Bell's of Suffolk is a gift shop specialising in hand painted furniture and traditional, vintage-inspired items for the home and garden, hand painted furniture and lighting.
She said: "Me and my staff are really pleased to hear the news that face masks will now be mandatory in store.
"We've always carried on wearing ours and had posters up advising customers to do the same.
"We've found overall customers have been compliant who are local, whereas people from outside Bungay tended to not wear masks.
"I don't feel like shops and public transport providers have been singled out because hospitality is a very different kind of setting, where it is often very awkward putting on a face mask."
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Andrew Pursey, managing director of Border Bus with headquarters in Beccles, confirmed that the bus company will continue to 'encourage' passengers to wear face masks.
He said: "Throughout the pandemic we have 'encouraged' passengers to wear face coverings throughout their journey, for their safety and for the safety of our staff and other passengers."
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney said: “Recent news concerning the Omicron variant and the government's decision to introduce restrictions serves as a reminder that the pandemic is sadly far from over and, in many respects, it was what we had all been dreading in the run-up to Christmas.
"Nonetheless, it is too early to say whether this will prove to be yet another turning point in the context of the overall pandemic.
"Locally the Enhanced Response Area arrangements for Suffolk that were put in place a month ago have worked in bringing the virus under control.
"Moving forward, it will now be mandatory to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport; measures that are being reintroduced as part of the tougher national restrictions.
"It is important that there is an expansion in the 'booster' vaccine roll-out locally and I have raised this with the Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group.
"Vaccines continue to be the best line of defence against all coronavirus variants, and it is vital that everyone gets vaccinated as soon as the opportunity becomes available to them.”