Shops set to open by June 15
PUBLISHED: 20:04 25 May 2020 | UPDATED: 20:31 25 May 2020
Shops in town centres across Suffolk have been given the green light to reopen by June 15 - provided they stick to strong social distancing guidelines to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Car showrooms and outdoor markets can even reopen from next Monday, June 1, before the wider reopening to non-essential retail stores by the middle of the month, prime minister Boris Johnson told the daily Downing Street coronavirus press conference.
“We will set out our formal assessment of the five tests that we set for adjusting the lockdown later this week as part of the three-weekly review we are legally required to undertake by Thursday,” said Mr Johnson.
“But because of the progress we are making I can, with confidence, put the British people on notice of the changes we intend to introduce as we move to step two.”
Town centres across Suffolk have already been making preparations for a reopening, with Ipswich Borough Council working on proposals to change some road layouts to make social distancing easier.
The Friday market has already reopened in the town, but Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said: “We are working with partners on proposals to change some road lay-outs to allow people to maintain social distancing as we see more shops re-opening.
“The safety of shoppers and employees will always come first. This has been our priority ever since the lockdown began in March.”
Suffolk County Council has also said there could be changes to road and pavement layouts to help ensure social distancing as lockdown eases, with new road markings painted, along with signs, barriers and cones installed.
Councillor Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for highways, said it was about the council taking a “pragmatic approach” and added: “We have received several requests from local town councils and business groups to make changes to the public highway as their usually-busy high streets and town centres begin to re-open following government lockdown.
“We are working closely with them all to implement these measures safely.”
However, Mr Johnson warned that authorities would have powers to enforce compliance with “Covid-secure” regulations where required.
“I want people to be confident that they can shop safely provided they follow the social distancing rules for all premises,” he added.
Southwold has already proposed the introduction of a one-way system for the town centre now that shops and the public toilets are reopening.
Ian Bradbury, town mayor, said: “It is there to help people and businesses in the town to feel safer in High Street.”
He said there had been issues with social distancing, despite signs going up and welcomed the council’s new scheme to help communities.
Ruth Boulton, owner of Websters newsagents in Debenham, said the measures would help protect customers in busy areas.
She said: “Where there is a large volume of footfall, such as Ipswich or Stowmarket, these measures will be helpful.
“We still have to follow social distancing guidelines.”
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