How busy is Suffolk's coast today as lockdown eases?
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
With the "stay at home" order no longer in place, many are deciding to head out and about for the first time in months.
For many, the first place on their wish-list to visit was the Suffolk coast - with some towns reporting an increase in the number of visitors.
Southwold was one of the areas that visitors returned to.
"It's picking up," said Southwold town and district councillor David Beavan.
"It's twice as busy as it was on Sunday.
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"It's going to be busier at the weekend."
Despite the easing of restrictions, Mr Beavan said he hoped that people would perhaps put off returning to the seaside town until April 12, when businesses re-open, to prevent large crowds in the town.
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"We are grateful for all the people who have stayed away," said Mr Beavan.
"It is hard though, people have had a year of this."
Mr Beavan said that fortunately, nearly all of the town's vulnerable residents have had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
To those visiting in the next few weeks, Mr Beavan said: "Stay out in the open air and don't congregate in massive groups.
"Stay in the rule six. We really don't want to ruin it now."
In Aldeburgh, it was said to be a bit quieter.
Susie Medland, who runs Munchies cafe and takeaway, said the town had not been heaving.
"It's not crazy," said Ms Medland.
"It's been gentle and I think it is going to be gentle."
Ms Medland said that she had launched a new takeaway jacket potato bar in time for the easing of restrictions and said that people were buying her platters to meet with friends on the beach.
Felixstowe mayor Mark Jepson said it was great that people were returning to the town - but called for caution.
"We do welcome people back to the town because the resort needs business," said Mr Jepson.
"We want people to enjoy themselves but keep to the restrictions and guidance.
"Enjoy the wonderful coast we have but respect what we can do and we can come out of this permanently."
Leader of East Suffolk Council, Steve Gallant, also welcomed the easing of restrictions but called for caution.
"It is understandable that people will want to meet outdoors with friends and family over Easter," he said.
"However, everyone should think carefully about their actions and ensure they are adhering to the rules.
"As the vaccination programme and community testing schemes progress, there is a genuine sense of optimism.
"However, social distancing remains incredibly important in order to keep everyone safe and to allow us to move forwards.
“Whilst holidays and overnight stays are not yet permitted, there may be the temptation for some to travel to the coast and it is also entirely understandable that some local destinations will be worried about influxes of visitors.
"Non-essential retail and hospitality businesses are not yet able to open and I hope that people will think very carefully about any plans they make for travelling and visiting in East Suffolk.
“I’m very proud of East Suffolk residents and the way they have stuck to the rules, which remain in place to keep us all as safe and healthy as possible.
"We will be living with the virus for some time and so we have to stick with it, be patient and all do our bit by following the government guidelines so that the virus is not allowed to take hold once more.”
Dr Padmanabhan Badrinath, consultant in public health medicine and lead consultant for health protection at Suffolk County Council, said: “It is good news that the conditions have been met that allow the government to relax some of the restrictions as part of its roadmap to emerging from lockdown.
“However, it is important that people do not drop their guard.
"Coronavirus is still around and, while cases are falling, we must not get complacent and should do all we can to ensure this stays the case.
“We urge people to follow the current government advice. Only socialise indoors with people you live with or who are in your support bubble - although up to six people or two households can now meet outside.
"While outside, adhere to social distancing guidance. Work from home if you can, only travel when necessary and, if you have symptoms, get a test and stay at home.
“We would also urge people to test regularly even if they don’t have symptoms – up to one in three of us can have the virus and may not know it, potentially infecting others without realising.”
Dr Badrinath said it remained important to wear masks and keep up hand hygiene.
A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: "We are pleased with how people have adhered to the new 'rule of six' after one day. It's important to remember that this is guidance and not regulation, so we will not be able to enforce it."