Visiting Norwich FAQs

Everything you need to know before visiting Norwich

For now, things look a little different in the city centre. Most of the shops, cafes, and restaurants have reopened, so you can pick up whatever you need, and stop for a snack!

Want to know more before you head into the city? Here are some of your top questions answered, from toilets to transport, carparks to queues.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Norwich city centre look like now?

Just as lovely as ever! The city is getting busier, in a nice way! And the City Hosts are back, to help with any queries, share advice, and point you in the right direction.

You might spot some brilliant new purple stickers helping people queue safely and marking out new entrances and exits. Created by Norwich Business Improvement District, this new signage makes it easier to physically distance, and for shops and restaurants to welcome you back.

Elsewhere, many national brands will have their own safety messages, so look out for extra signs and follow their guidance on how to shop safely. Everyone is learning these new rules together, so don’t worry if it takes you a little while longer to pick up everything you need.

Do I have to wear a mask when shopping?

As of 24 July, it will be compulsory to wear masks when entering shops or supermarkets, and when using public transport. From 8 August, you will need to wear a mask in places such as libraries, museums, salons, and leisure centres. For a full list of where you need to wear a mask, visit the Government website.

We know that this may be daunting for many. Wearing face masks to go shopping is something else new we have to get used to – however, by now we’re all used to making changes.

It will feel strange if you’re not already wearing a face mask in everything you do. For those of us wearing face masks for the first time, our current situation will feel very real and strange. But let’s not forget why we must wear them. The UK Government states that face masks are ‘mainly intended to protect others’. We’ve all got a part to play in protecting those in our community who might be more vulnerable or at risk of infection, so it’s important that we all adhere to the guidelines and do our bit to respect and protect the city of Norwich and further afield.

But wearing a mask doesn’t need to be an intimidating experience. We will get used to it.

There’s lots of great Government advice on face coverings, including where to purchase, how to fit and how to dispose of or clean your masks. There’s even guides to make your own face coverings for anyone looking to spruce up their lockdown look! It can even be a great activity to do with younger children.

We’ve also seen lots of local businesses making bespoke face coverings that you can purchase for really great prices.

So, if you’re someone who likes to stand out from the crowd, you’ve got plenty of options.

Is there anything I should do before I come into Norwich?

We recommend thinking ‘Know Before You Go’ and doing a little bit more research before you leave the house.

The Government has made facemasks compulsory in shops, and from 8 August facemasks will be compulsory in a range of other places, including libraries, museums, and other indoor attractions. This means you need to wear a facemask when you’re inside these locations, or you may receive a fine. You might like to read our short blog about facemasks.

There are lots of different facemask designs, so you can find one that suits you. Otherwise, the Government’s message is to keep safe and keep physically distancing. Before you leave the house, make sure you have your mask, and think about packing hand sanitiser, and possibly gloves.

If you know which shops you want to visit, check individual websites for opening times and facilities. Many shops have changed their opening hours and some are still closed on Sundays. Customer toilets might not be open yet.

Don’t forget your debit or credit card as many retailers prefer card payments to cash. Contactless payments have increased from £30 to £45 too.

Checklist before leaving home

– Check car park status or timetables if you are using public transport
– Look up opening times and facilities for individual stores
– Make sure you have a mask
– Know where you can use a toilet
– Be aware most shops, public transport and car parks may only take card payments

Can I use public transport?

Public transport is available. When you travel, you’ll need to wear a face covering, and follow the rules for physical distancing. Be aware that there will be a reduced capacity on public transport so you may have to wait longer than usual to get on a bus or train. This includes Park & Ride bus services.

Which car parks are open?

Most car parks have now reopened, including City Council car parks – see here for details. The Forum car park, Intu Chapelfield and Castle Quarter have all reopened their car parks. Check before you head into town to see if opening times have changed.

Car parks will also have physical distancing in force so please be aware there may be reduced capacity for parking spaces – most will also only take card payment

Which shops are open?

Most shops have reopened including Jarrold, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Primark and House of Fraser. Chapelfield and Castle Quarter are also open, but do check individual shop websites to see their opening hours.

Many independent stores have also reopened, including Elm, DogFish, Thorns DIY, and Working Title Clothing. Please check the websites of your favourite places. Most of the stalls on the market are open again, but remember to follow the one-way system.

Will any toilets be open to the public?

Most toilets are now open to the public, but we recommend checking in advance to be sure. The best way to check which toilets will be open is to visit the website of the shop or premises you intend to visit (for public toilets please see Norwich City Council website).

Physical distancing and improved cleanliness will also apply to toilets so please expect a queue. Don’t leave it to the last minute – you don’t want to be caught short!

What should I expect when queuing?

At all times we need to observe Government guidelines for physical distancing. To support this, all shops (as with supermarkets) will be operating a strict number of customers in store (far less than we are used to) at any given time – so be ready to queue outside before being admitted. And expect possibly long queues for popular stores. Our advice is to think about what time you want to head out, trying to avoid peak times so access is quicker.

Which restaurants, cafes and bars are open?

Lots of city centre bars, restaurants and cafes have been reopening their doors to the public, although their opening times may have changed. Lots of restaurants and cafes have also opened new outside spaces, including Brick, Al Dente, Gelato, and Sir Toby’s Beers.

Eat Out to Help Out, the Government scheme which offers up to 50% a meal eaten in participating restaurants and cafes, takes place Mondays-Wednesdays in Augusts. We’ve written a short blog featuring some of the local eateries participating!

We recommend you check individual business websites prior to visiting, to ensure you have the latest information on opening times and procedures. It is important you understand the policies of the venues you intend to visit, as many may require you to book or reserve a table.

We all have a role to play in supporting local business. So if you have reserved a table at a venue and can no longer make it, it is really important that you get in touch with the business to cancel your booking. If you notify the business, they can potentially offer your table to other guests, which will help them in the long run.

Will I be able to grab a coffee and something to eat somewhere?

Cafes are open, with limited space to sit down inside. Throughout August, many local restaurants are participating in Eat Out to Help Out, meaning you can save money on your meal if you eat inside! Find out more here. 

You can also grab a take-away coffee, and maybe something tasty to eat! Norwich has many lovely green spaces to enjoy a break from shopping.

Can I bike into the city?

You can bike into the city, and there are many cycle paths that you can use. There are bicycle racks throughout the city, including secure cycle parking at Intu Chapelfield, and bike racks behind Jarrold, near to the Playhouse, outside City Hall, and many other locations. Remember to lock your bike securely!

There are also Beryl Bike Share services, where you can rent a bike.

Are any roads closed?

Some of the city centre roads are closed, and some have been partially pedestrianised. To find out more, please follow this link.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

If you feel unwell, have a temperature, have a persistent cough or other COVID-related symptoms we recommend that you immediately get a COVID-19 test. You can order a self-test kit online, or attend a drive-through testing site, please check here for more information. Test results usually come back within 24-hours. Until you have your results, it is best to isolate from others.