Safety ‘absolutely top priority’ as Ipswich shops prepare for June 15 reopening

Police patrol Ipswich town centre during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police patrol Ipswich town centre during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Shoppers’ safety will be “absolutely top priority” when stores reopen on June 15 for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown, an Ipswich business leader has said.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said that all non-essential retail stores can reopen by the middle of next month as part of plans to further relax restrictions put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus earlier this year.

Car showrooms and outdoor markets can even reopen from next Monday, June 1, with Mr Johnson telling the daily Downing Street press conference: “Because of the progress we are making I can, with confidence, put the British people on notice of the changes we intend to introduce.”

That is provided they adhere to strict “Covid-secure” regulations, he said.

Suffolk town centres have already been making preparations for reopening, with the county council saying there could be changes to road and pavement layouts to help ensure social distancing, along with new road markings painted, signs, barriers and cones installed.

However, Terry Hunt, chairman of Ipswich Vision, said that while he “warmly welcomed” the prime minister’s announcement, he said: “We need to do everything we possibly can to make people feel safe about coming back into the town centre.

“That has its considerable challenges.

Most Read

“It’s obviously very good news that shops will be able to open and our town centre will be able to take its first steps back to normality.

“However, we need to find ways that people can come back into our town centre while respecting social distancing.”

Ipswich Borough Council has already announced that it is working on proposals to do just that, which could include changing some road layouts to make social distancing easier.

The detail of those plans is set to be revealed over the coming week.

Mr Hunt said: “I know the plans that will be announced are all about keeping people safe when they come back into the town centre.

“That’s absolutely top priority and I accept lots of people will be very concerned about coming back.

“Our responsibility is to do whatever we can to convince them that coming into the town centre is as safe as possible.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter