Ipswich shops ‘need certainty’ over end of lockdown, says town centre leader
PUBLISHED: 16:05 18 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:52 18 November 2020
Shops in Ipswich need certainty over what will happen when the second coronavirus lockdown ends on December 2 - so they can prepare for “crucial” Christmas trading, a town centre leader has said.
Terry Baxter, chairman of Ipswich Central business improvement district, also said that while grants of up to £3,000 available to businesses from the government during the current restrictions are welcome, the move “isn’t going to be enough” for many.
Prime minister Boris Johnson brought in the second lockdown at the start of November to help curb rising infection rates and stop hospitals becoming overwhelmed with patients.
In a message to BID members half-way through the current restrictions, Mr Baxter said the second lockdown “feels rather different to the period of restrictions earlier in the year with more businesses able to remain open and more people enjoying longer daily walks through the town centre”.
He said that, at the time, it “seemed unfair for us to then be restricted to the same extent as other areas that had been less successful” in keeping Covid-19 case numbers down.
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He added: “However, although infection rates have risen, our priority now is to ensure that our town centre can reopen as fully as possible on December 3.
“We’ll be asking our MP, Tom Hunt, to take the clearest possible message back to government that Ipswich businesses need certainty with all plans to be in detail and announced early.
“Christmas is a crucial time for our town centre and businesses and consumers need reassurance ahead of the important trading period.”
Ipswich Central is planning to announce its plans for Christmas and release updated guidance on reopening businesses separately.
It is also is helping Ipswich Borough Council administer the new Local Restrictions Support Grant, where firms can get grants of £3,000 depending on their size.
Mr Baxter said the grant would be “giving businesses vital financial support to help them through these unpredictable times” - but added: “For many businesses, this isn’t enough and we’ll continue to work with BIDs across the UK to lobby for more support, particularly if restrictions are extended further.”
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