Ipswich businesses lobby for one-metre distancing rule to give bars, pubs and cafes a boost
PUBLISHED: 18:26 19 June 2020
Sarah Lucy Brown
Ipswich business leaders have called on MP Tom Hunt to lobby the government for the two-metre social distancing rule to be reduced, as a lifeline measure for bars, cafes and restaurants.
Ipswich Central, which represents the interests of town centre businesses, wrote to Mr Hunt on Friday, June 19 urging him to make the case to government for allowing one-metre social distancing restrictions, as it will be crucial for the food and drink trade to get back on its feet.
Those firms had been working on an expected announcement of July 4 for re-opening, although the industry has been calling for a firm date to be announced.
Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter pointed to the World Health Organization’s approval of other countries to allow one-metre distancing. He added that there was a need for this to be announced well before July 4, so that firms could make the necessary preparations.
He wrote: “This is a critical time for the hospitality sector and for the wider population of the town, who have told us that they are greatly missing this important ‘social’ aspect of their lives.
“This was evidenced in significant research carried out recently by Ipswich Central, where one of the biggest drivers for encouraging people back into our town was the ability to meet with friends and family in a safe environment.
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“Bars, restaurants and cafes have the potential to provide that safe space, but they need the understanding and support from government now.”
Mr Baxter added that clear details were needed on the extent that bars, restaurants and cafes can increase the numbers of seats in outside areas.
Mr Hunt said he was backing their plight.
“I am very supportive of what they are calling for, and I share their concern about the town centre, particularly in the hospitality sector,” he said.
“The government have got to issue clear guidance on what businesses can and cannot do, and we have got to be prepared to think outside the box but in a way that is still recognising the issues around Covid-19.
“I think we should be prepared to look at tables outside, and certain roads possibly on a case by case basis, and where we have pubs open with tables outside you can purchase an ale and have a drink socially in a safe way.
“It’s really important – you think about how many people are employed in that sector and how many people make use of that, it will allow us to socialise again.”
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