'A positive step for Ipswich' – What July 19 will mean for the town
- Credit: Archant
The full lifting of lockdown restrictions would be a "positive step" for Ipswich's town centre economy, a leading business leader has said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to give the plans the final go-ahead next week, which would mean all lockdown restrictions and laws over mask use would be dropped from July 19.
That means previously closed or restricted businesses such as nightclubs, bars and music venues can fully reopen as usual – while footfall is also expected to increase in the town during the day.
Terry Baxter, chair of Ipswich Central, said the changes would be a real boost for the local economy.
He said: "Clearly it is a confidence boost for businesses.
"Businesses appear to have that sense of direction going forward now, and certainly for the night-time economy, being able to fully reopen will be welcome news for them.
"We are already seeing more people come to the town centre and this will take it to the next stage."
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The return of office workers would also be welcome news for the town's coffee shops, with independents having seen a significant drop in morning and lunchtime trade.
Mr Baxter said the town has always been supported by a "very strong office workforce" every day, and that he hopes even with a future of so-called hybrid working, independents will continue to see an increase in trade.
Yolanda Acott, manager of the Cool Beanz coffee shop, said it may take some time for business to improve significantly with some offices not planning to make an immediate full return.
She said: "Cool Beanz feels soulless at the moment, but I’m hoping as things build up the cafe will get its buzz back.
"I’m making cupcakes to give away to the customers on July 19."
Mr Baxter added however it will be important to respect people's wishes and accept that some may remain cautious of making a full return to life as normal.
He said: "I think to a certain extent people will need to move forward, but we have been doing that since the latest relaxation of rules.
"We just need to be careful and take care of each other, and this will be a really positive step forward for Ipswich."