Ipswich business group demands fast moves to bring an end to lockdown

Paul Clement

Paul Clement called for a clear route out of lockdown to be published. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The boss of the group representing town centre businesses in Ipswich is disappointed that the government is not starting to ease lockdown next month - but has said it is vital that restrictions should be relaxed from March.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said businesses would be disappointed that the relaxation of the lockdown was not starting at the end of half term in the middle of February.

He said: “Today’s announcement that the review of the lockdown restrictions planned for mid-February will be delayed until March at the earliest is unsurprising, but will massively disappoint town centre businesses who are crying out for some sense of certainty.

"We have been requesting a definitive roadmap for the lifting of restrictions for some while. The PM has finally said today that he will announce this on 22 February. While far too late, this must contain an absolute commitment to the opening up our economy and no more stop-starts.”

Ipswich Central is calling for a clear roadmap out of lockdown for local businesses, a VAT reduction for hospitality and additional business support for companies who have suffered during the lockdowns.

Although Mr Johnson said schools could start to reopen from March 8, he gave no indication when other sectors like hospitality and non-essential retail may see the start of easing of restrictions.

Experts have suggested that it might be unsafe to open hospitality venues before May without risking a further spike in Covid cases.

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But there may be more clarity on when sectors may be eased when Mr Johnson announces a roadmap out of the lockdown during the week starting on February 22.

He was giving no guarantees on this and told the House of Commons further relaxations would: “depend on the continued success of our vaccination programme, the capacity of the NHS, and on deaths falling at the pace we would expect as more people are inoculated”.

He told MPs he hopes to be able to “populate the diary” with estimated dates for the loosening of specific restrictions in the “next few weeks”.

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