Could we have to walk down “one-way streets” in Ipswich town centre?

Benefit claims have risen sharply in Ipswich since the coronavirus crisis started. Picture: SARAH LU

Benefit claims have risen sharply in Ipswich since the coronavirus crisis started. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Could shoppers returning to the heart of Ipswich after lockdown find “one way” pedestrian streets in a bid to promote social distancing?

That’s one proposal being considered by businesses who will be trying to tempt back cautious shoppers to the town centre once rules on which shops can open are relaxed.

Members of Ipswich Central, the body that represents businesses in the heart of town, have been meeting online to discuss what could be done to reassure shoppers once the government says it is safe for non-essential stores to reopen.

And members of the Ipswich Vision Partnership, which includes Ipswich Central, are to discuss the Prime Minister’s address to the country next week. Mr Johnson is expected to give some ideas about how lockdown may be eased on Sunday evening – although he is not expected to go into any details.

What do people think about the future of shopping?

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said the main aim of members was to create an atmosphere in the town centre where shoppers and visitors could feel secure.

He said: “Everyone knows we won’t immediately get back to how we were before the coronavirus came in. At the start we are expecting that people will be quite cautious about coming out to the town centre and we all understand that.

“We may need to put in markings on the road or even make smaller streets one-way only for pedestrians to ensure it is possible to keep social distancing regulations.”

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Businesses recognised it is likely to take some time for most people to feel really comfortable about going back to the town centre – and were expecting to see only a fraction of their normal customer numbers at first.

But Mr Baxter said research suggested that the first place people were likely to visit for shopping was their local centre – rather than going on long trips to larger centres.

He said: “We want to be ready to welcome back those who use the town centre – to create an area where they can feel safe and where they will be happy to use the shops and other facilities.”

In the meantime most town centre stops remain closed – only those selling essential supplies are open and the footfall in the area remains much lower than normal as the majority of people observe the lockdown.

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