‘A big loss’ - sadness after coronavirus cancels Christmas lights spectacle
PUBLISHED: 14:34 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:23 05 August 2020
Families and businesses have reacted with sadness to the news their town’s annual Christmas lights switch-on has been cancelled.
Diss Town Council announced on Tuesday (August 4) that the festive showpiece will not take place in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
It said the “difficult decision” had been made after consulting the latest government and Public Health England advice, adding that safety was a priority.
Christmas lights will, however, still be placed around the town for people to enjoy throughout the festive season.
Concerns have meanwhile been raised over the cancellation’s impact on businesses, on what is one of the town’s busiest days of the year.
Nicola Ready, who owns Market Place women’s clothing store, Flories, said: “From a business point of view it is a real shame.
“We get quite good footfall on switch-on day because the town tends to be really busy from lunchtime until the evening.
“I can understand it, though, because everything is getting called off at the moment. It would be quite a task to socially distance everybody.”
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Katie’s Kitchen owner, Katie Devereux, said the news would serve as a significant blow to hundreds of families.
“From a personal point of view I look forward to the switch-on because I have a four-year-old who loves it,” she added.
“It’s a shame and a great loss to the town but, in terms of staying safe, I completely understand.”
While understanding of the decision to cancel this year’s switch-on, Birgitte Mager, who owns Diss Publishing Bookshop, said more must be done to encourage people into town.
“I think it is really sad for Diss, but we live in hope that we may have a vaccine soon,” said Mrs Mager.
“What we have to do is keep spirits high, but also convince people that coming out is safe. This is obviously a completely new normal, but we have to try and get people shopping again.”
Diss Town Council’s full statement on the Christmas lights said: “We have not taken this decision lightly.
“Our switch-on is a well-loved event which attracts 3,000 visitors each year, and we know it forms part of a very special tradition for many residents and visitors.
“But maintaining social distancing during the event would be unachievable. Our ongoing priority must be the safety of everyone involved.”
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