'Truly devastating blow' for businesses as Freedom Day pushed back

Leyla Edwards owner of The club Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Leyla Edwards, owner of The Club in Ipswich town centre - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Businesses in Suffolk have been dealt a "truly devastating blow" after the Covid 'Freedom Day' was pushed back by four weeks.

The government had hoped to lift all restrictions on the last stage of the roadmap on June 21 — but this has been delayed amid rising case numbers of the virus.

The decision means capacity limits for sports, pubs and cinemas will remain, while nightclubs will stay closed.

The Music Room in Ipswich is set to cancel up to 15 shows due to the delay, events manager Darren Smith has revealed.

The Music Room's stage in Ipswich

The Music Room's stage in Ipswich. The venue will be forced to cancel events due to the delay - Credit: The Music Room

Mr Smith said: "We were thinking it might only be a two-week delay.

"We'll save as many events as we can, but the whole table service thing and having to pay out for extra staff is costing a lot of money.

"We are getting by, but I don't know how many venues can carry on."

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Leyla Edwards, who owns The Club in Ipswich and also works in mental health support, said: "I expected it, to be honest. Now I've got to spend the next three days rearranging events and refunding tickets.

"It's going to have a big impact. Financially, it's going to cause a huge strain. It's a huge disappointment and a kick in the teeth.

"People's mental health is suffering. Everybody I see in my day job was so excited for June 21."

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said the government "must now provide certainty" about the future and called for firms to receive more financial support.

Paul Clement has appealed to people to work together to bring infection numbers down enough to take

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

He added: "The decision to, yet again, promise certainty to businesses and then snatch away the opportunity to return to normality at short notice is a truly devastating blow.

"Only last week, the government’s own data confirmed barely any new Covid cases in Suffolk yet, here we are again, with businesses being told that they must remain dramatically restricted.

"It really is incredibly frustrating."

Paul Simon, head of policy and communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, added: "As has been shown time and time again over the last 15 months, Suffolk businesses are inherently adaptable.

Paul Simon of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Paul Simon

Paul Simon of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Paul Simon - Credit: Archant

"Whilst a four-week delay in lifting the remaining Covid restrictions is disappointing, affected businesses will be reassured that an extension is worth it as long as the government uses that time to further ramp up its vaccine programme to allow a more certain and comprehensive opening up in July."