Plight of shops and pubs in Ipswich raised by Tom Hunt in House of Commons
PUBLISHED: 13:32 19 November 2020 | UPDATED: 14:42 19 November 2020
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has backed town centre businesses who have begged the government to give early clarity on what measures it plans to ease at the end of the current lockdown on December 2.
He raised the issue during a House of Commons debate after Ipswich Central chair Terry Baxter wrote asking for his support as retailers and businesses in the hospitality sector started to look at preparing for the return of customers in the run-up to Christmas.
Mr Baxter’s letter said it was vital that businesses had as much notice as possible about what trading restrictions would apply to be able to prepare for reopening.
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Mr Hunt told the House of Commons: “Ipswich has low levels of Covid compared with other parts of country. We need to remain vigilant, and we need certainty in key areas as soon as the Government are able to provide it.
“The education sector needs to know whether there will be exams and what they will look like, and the retail and hospitality sector needs to know whether it will be able to use December to make those gains. They need to plan soon, and every day matters, because hopefully they will be able to do that.”
Ministers have warned that it may be impossible to make firm plans for the post-lockdown period because they will have to see what is happening to infection rates, hospital admissions, and deaths as the lockdown period is coming to an end.
But Mr Hunt said: “This is an incredibly fast-moving situation, and it is too early to tell whether the second national lockdown has had the effect that the Government would have liked. Although it is hard to provide certainty, that is what a growing number of people in my constituency need.
“Retailers and the hospitality sector have lost November, which is one of their busiest months. They need to know as soon as possible what December will look like. Will they have the opportunity to make up some of the losses they have made so far, or will the restrictions be extended?”
Mr Baxter pointed out that the Christmas period was make-or-break for many businesses and they needed to know what stock they should carry to prepare for such a crucial time of the year.
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