From Pea Porridge to the New Wolsey - what's opening from May 17

The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, basking in the summer sunshine Photo: Lucy Taylor

The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, basking in the summer sunshine Photo: Lucy Taylor

Pubs, restaurants, theatres, hotels and indoor attractions across Suffolk and north Essex are preparing to fully reopen as the Government continues on its roadmap out of lockdown.

Following the successful reopening of hairdressers, pub gardens, and non essential shops, we are expecting Step 3 of the easing of Covid-19 lockdown rules to happen from Monday, May 17, 2021. 

The Unruly Pig has a sunny decked terrace and large lawn Picture: Tim Bowden

The Unruly Pig, in Bromeswell near Woodbridge, has been named among the UK's top 10 gastropubs Picture: Tim Bowden - Credit: Tim Bowden

The main change is that indoor hospitality will be allowed,  meaning pubs like the award-winning Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, will be able to offer indoor dining again. 

Restaurants such as Michelin Star Pea Porridge in Bury St Edmunds will also be able to welcome back customers.  

Chef patron Pascal and Karine Canevet of Maison Bleue Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Chef patron Pascal and Karine Canevet of Maison Bleue Picture: LUCY TAYLOR - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Another prestigious Bury St Edmunds restaurant set to open is Maison Bleue, which offers modern French fine dining. 

The government is expected to confirm whether restrictions will be relaxed a week in advance on May 10. 

What is Step 3 of the roadmap? 

Justin Sharp, Jurga Sharp, Anna Murray and Filipe Araujo from Pea Porridge. Picture: Gregg Brown

Justin Sharp, Jurga Sharp, Anna Murray and Filipe Araujo from Pea Porridge. Picture: Gregg Brown - Credit: Gregg Brown


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As long as the number of coronavirus cases stay low,  Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown is scheduled to take effect from Monday, May 17.

Alongside indoor drinking and dining being allowed for pubs and restaurants, cinemas including Cineworld venues in Ipswich, Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds will  be reopening. 

Theatres in Suffolk will be welcoming back audiences, with the New Wolsey in Ipswich giving families a chance to watch their latest rock’n’roll panto The Snow Queen in May Half Term

Other indoor attractions like Colchester Castle in Essex are excited to be opening their doors for visitors once again too.

Some of the floral displays in Colchester Castle Park

Some of the floral displays in Colchester Castle Park - Credit: Archant

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Suffolk's tourist industry will also be given a much needed boost as hotels and other types of accommodation can open to guests, previously only self-catering accommodation with no shared facilities could open.

Step 3 will mean that 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and other commemorative events.

The 30-person limit on funerals will be removed from May 17, as long as the venue can comply with social distancing. 

The four steps set out in the national roadmap will apply to all regions of England at the same time. 

And following the move to Step 3, it is likely that more settings will be allowed to open unless a specific exemption exists. 

Drinkers raise their pints at The Woolpack
in Ipswich Picture: Sonya Duncan

Drinkers raise their pints at The Woolpack in Ipswich Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Even though it is expected more venues across north Essex and Suffolk will be allowed to reopen, limits on social contact will still be in place  

From May 17 it is expected, six people or two separate households will be able to meet indoors and groups of no more than 30 people will be able to meet up outdoors. 

When can pubs open indoors? 

Indoor areas of hospitality venues such as pubs, cafés and restaurants will reopen from Step 3

Hospitality businesses across Suffolk and north Essex will be able to open indoors from May 17, albeit with some restrictions still in place. 

After eating and drinking al fresco since Step 2 of the lockdown easing on April 12, there will no longer be any need to check the weather forecast every time you head to the pub or restaurant from May 17.

Ipswich's Three Wise Monkeys, located on Lloyds Avenue Picture: Neil Perry

Ipswich's Three Wise Monkeys, located on Lloyds Avenue Picture: Neil Perry - Credit: Archant

Pubs can welcome back customers for a pint inside, rather than only offering outdoor service, and indoor dining will also resume across the hospitality sector. 

Just like outdoors, table service will still be required and most pubs, including the Tavern on St John's, in Bury St Edmunds, will be requiring customers to book in advance. 

Craig Nichols, owner of St John's Tavern Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Craig Nichols, owner of St John's Tavern Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

And the Sun Inn, The Marlborough, and Milsoms in Dedham can't wait to serve pints and meals again.

As in Step 2, venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks, nor will there be a curfew. 

However, customers will have to order, eat and drink while seated. 

What indoor attractions can open at Step 3? 

Indoor entertainment and visitor attractions will be allowed to reopen from Step 3, no earlier than May 17. 

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARCHANT

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

According to Cabinet Office guidance on www.gov.uk, this will include: 

  • Cinemas (outdoor cinemas will also be permitted to open) - Cineworld has confirmed it will be opening its venues in Suffolk, many of the independent cinemas have not yet confirmed when they will reopen. 

  • Theatres (outdoor theatres will also be permitted to open) - The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich and the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds have confirmed they will be reopening in May. 

  • Concert halls 

  • Amusement arcades and adult gaming centres - the popular Mannings Amusement arcade in Felixstowe said they will be open on Monday, May 17. 

  • Bingo halls - Buzz Bingo in Osborne Street Colchester have confirmed they will reopen on Monday, May 17. 

  • Casinos 

  • Bowling alleys - Bury Bowl in Eastgate Street, Bury St Edmunds will be opening on May 31, Superbowl in the Buttermarket in Ipswich will open on May 21.

  • Snooker and pool halls - Sudbury Snooker Club is hoping to open on May 17, as is Bears Pool and Snooker in Star Lane, Ipswich. 

Indoor as well as outdoor attractions will also reopen at the following: 

Colchester Zoo reopened to guests on June 18 after months of closure Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Colchester Zoo reopened to guests on June 18 after months of closure Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

  • Museums and galleries - all areas of the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket will be opening up to the public on Tuesday, May 18. 

  • Adventure playgrounds and activities 

  • Skating rinks - Curve Motion in Lamdin Road, Bury St Edmunds is now taking bookings from May 17. 

  • Games and recreation venues, including laser quest, escape rooms, paintballing and recreational driving facilities - Suffolk Escape Room in Saxmundham is now accepting bookings after May 17.

  • Play areas, including soft play centres and inflatable parks - Tumbledown soft play at Stonham Barns are accepting provisional bookings from May 17. 

  • Model villages 

  • Trampolining parks - Jump In Trampoline and Adventure Park on Anglia Retail park in Ipswich will open on May 19. 

  • Water and aqua parks 

  • Theme parks and film studios - Pleasurewood Hills near Lowestoft opened on April 17, indoor areas at theme park will now be able to open too. 

  • Zoos, safari parks, aquariums and other animal attractions - indoor areas at Colchester Zoo will now be able to open, booking at the zoo will be still be essential, although there is an ongoing trial which allows annual pass holders to queue up from 11am for open access.

  • Botanical gardens, greenhouses and biomes 

  • Sculpture parks 

  • Landmarks including observation wheels or viewing platforms 

  • Stately or historic homes, castles, or other heritage sites - Framlingham castle will be reopening its indoor spaces from May 17, there will be limits on visitor numbers.

George, Stanley and Isaac playing games. People are enjoying the Easter Trail at Framlingham Castle

George, Stanley and Isaac playing games. People are enjoying the Easter Trail at Framlingham Castle Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

 What else can open from May 17 when lockdown eases? 

Conference centres and exhibition halls will also be able to open, and private dining and banqueting events, subject to the capacity limits set out by the government. 

Remaining holiday accommodation, including hotels like the historic Lamb Inn in Long Melford will be able to reopen, as will hostels and B&Bs.

Saunas and steam rooms will be allowed to open once again meaning that the Riverhills Spa in Ipswich can welcome back guests wanting to take advantage of their spa packages. 

Indoor adult team sports and group exercise classes at gyms will return. 

 Other events and activities that are able to commence from Step 3 (no earlier than May 17) include: 

  • Business functions such as conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, charity auctions, and private dining events such as charity or gala dinners and awards ceremonies, and corporate hospitality 

  • Air shows, historical/battle re-enactments, live animal performances such as falconry displays at events, and non-elite and professional sporting events. 

 How many people can attend events? 

Indoor events and remaining outdoor events, such as elite sports, business events, cinemas and live performance events, will be permitted from Step 3, however attendances will be restricted.

Events recommencing at Step 3 will be subject to the following capacity caps: 

  • 1,000 people or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, for indoor events 

  • 4,000 people or 50 per cent of a site or venue’s capacity, whichever is lower for outdoor events. 

For outdoor events taking place in venues with seated capacity of over 16,000, event organisers may apply a 25 per cent capacity cap, up to a maximum of 10,000 seated people. 

There will be no fans allowed at Ipswich Town's Portman Road ground until the 2021/2022 season.

However it is hoped England fans may be able to watch the Euros this summer, on the big screen at Portman Road. 

What children’s activities can open from May 17 

The soft play area at Tumbledown soft play in Stonham Barns. Picture: TUMBLEDOWN

The soft play area at Tumbledown soft play in Stonham Barns. Picture: TUMBLEDOWN - Credit: Archant

Families will be delighted to know indoor children's activities, such as soft play areas, should be open again from May 17. 

Places that can open include play areas, including soft play centres and inflatable parks. 

The soft play at Clip 'n Climb climbing centre on Ransomes Europark in Ipswich will be opening from May 17, they are currently offering toddler sessions on their climbing walls. 

How many households can mix from May 17? 

As part of Step 3, and no earlier than May 17, the government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible. 

This means that most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal for now. 

Indoors, the 'Rule of 6' or two households will apply but the government is keeping this under review. 

 Does social distancing still apply from May 17? 

The government is due to update advice on social contact between friends and family, including hugging. 

But until this point, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble. 

Before Step 4 begins, the government will also complete a full review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut coronavirus transmission, such as the wearing of face coverings. 

 How many people can attend my wedding from May 17? 

Seckford Hall Picture: GREGG BROWN

Seckford Hall Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

As part of the Step 3 rules, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are permitted for up to 30 people in COVID-19 secure venues that are allowed to open.

This is up from the current number of 15 people.  

The limit will also apply to other types of significant life events, including bar mitzvahs and Christenings. 

This will be welcome news for popular wedding venues Seckford Hall and Easton Grange, which are both in the Woodbridge area. 

Government guidance says receptions can also go ahead with up to 30 people in a Covid-19 secure indoor venue, or outdoors.

The rules include private gardens like those at Helmingham Hall in Helmingham near Stowmarket, and Ravenwood Hall in Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds.. 

Further details on receptions at this step will be updated by the government.  

At Step 4, the government hopes to remove all limits on weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and receptions. 

This will be subject to the results of the Scientific Events Research programme. 

How many can attend a funeral? 

From May 17, the 30-person limit on funerals will be removed, as long as venues can adhere to social distancing measures. 

When is Step 4? 

The fourth step of the government's lockdown easing roadmap is scheduled for no earlier than Monday, June 21. 

In Step 4 – five weeks after Step 3 – the government hopes to reopen remaining venues, such as nightclubs - including Unit 17 at Cardinal Park in Ipswich. 

It also hopes to lift the restrictions on social contact and large events that apply in Step 3, enabling gigs, festivals and theatre performances to attract crowds above the Step 3 capacity restrictions. 

This is subject to the outcome of the Events Research Programme, and a review of social distancing measures. 

Officials will also look to relax Covid-secure requirements on businesses, subject to the outcome of the reviews. 

 
 



 
 





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