Getting ready to reopen: the countdown to Monday

  • Watch a full report from ITV News Anglia's Graham Stothard.

Shops, pubs and restaurants across the region are putting the final touches to their plans to re-open next week.

However, for many local businesses, it is an anxious wait to see if people will return and start spending again after more than three months of lockdown.

From Monday, pubs and restaurants can open for service outside alongside non essential shops. We'll be able to get a haircut, zoos can re-open as well as gyms and leisure centres.

In Ely, the bunting is going up. A sign of relief that freedoms Covid took away, are slowly being restored.

The bunting is up in Ely as shops prepare to reopen Credit: ITV Anglia

In Milton Keynes, similar positive thinking. Nicola O'Dea-Patel co-owns a shop in Centre MK which sells locally made products.

They only opened in December. They got two weeks trading in, before lockdown forced them to close. She says they're really excited about Monday.

"It feels like it's been a long four months since we been closed. We've got a lot of vendors coming in to stock the shelves, and it's really good to have a buzz again in the shop, and we're really looking forward to getting customers back in."

  • Watch a full report from ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray.

Pub landlady Vanessa Hannon from the Acle Bridge in Norfolk says she is over the moon and excited about reopening.

"Nobody was given a book about Covid and how to run your business in the hospitality industry," she said.

"I think we’ve done amazing. I think we’ve done some really good stuff but I think we’re still learning."

The easing of lockdown has led to concerns that as people rush to get back to normal, transmission of the virus could rise again. One idea floated to prevent this is a vaccination passport scheme. Prove you had the vaccine, for access to a wider array of services.

Shops are counting down to their reopening on Monday Credit: ITV Anglia

Around 24 million people used to pass through Centre MK every year before the pandemic hit, now obviously that dropped off a cliff, but they say pent-up demand is so high they are expecting to hit those numbers again fairly soon. They also say they have no plans and they haven't been consulted on the possibility of a vaccine passport scheme.

Although if the government did introduce a vaccine passport scheme, retailers could be forced to take part. In much the same way wearing masks is now mandatory. 

In Cambridgeshire, there are big plans for the future. How exactly mass events are going to take place is still unclear, but at Duxford they're already gearing up.

After a year of opening and then closing again, many are hopeful the vaccine has made this latest course of action more final. But with warnings there could be a fourth wave after summer, most are still choosing to proceed with cautious excitement.