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Letter to Tom Hunt MP: review the 10pm curfew

As hospitality businesses face uncertainty and confusion over the Government's "10pm curfew" rule on bars, pubs and restaurants; our Chairman Terry Baxter has written to Ipswich MP, Tom Hunt, calling for the Government to review the rule locally; as infection rates remain low in Ipswich and Suffolk.

Read the full letter...

Dear Tom Hunt MP,

I am responding to the recent media coverage of your views on the current licensed premises curfew arrangements and likely further restrictions for this sector. At the outset, I would like to thank you for your support for the sector and to demonstrate our full support for your views.

Ipswich Central is the Business Improvement District (BID) Company for the town centre and waterfront and, amongst our business members, are some 70 licensed premises including bars, pubs and restaurants. Alongside the wider leisure sector, the licensed trade has been utterly devastated by disruption caused by COVID-19 is in now in a state of crisis. This week’s announcement from Greene King of 79 pub closures – 26 of them permanent – and 800 job cuts is yet another stark reminder of the crisis our businesses are facing. Pubs, bars and restaurants are vital to our town centre economy. They form a crucial part of our social fabric, drive wider economic benefits and employ large numbers of local people. We must seek to protect them.

These businesses are not only struggling financially but are also struggling to understand the basis of Government policy. They are urgently seeking a review of the scientific evidence that purportedly supports a curtailment of their opening hours. Some businesses we have spoken to site evidence that only 3% of transmissions take place within leisure premises - less than in homes, schools, shops and other settings. At present, Ipswich and Suffolk, have extremely low rates of infection and our members cannot understand why they are restricted by a curfew that is no different to that in areas with much higher infection rates. Looking ahead, in the case of a spike in infections, more detailed scientific evidence of the rationale for any more severe restrictions must be available.

So, on behalf of licensed premises in Ipswich town centre, my request is for:

The rationale for the current curfew and any more stringent restrictions must be reviewed in the light of scientific evidence which should also be made publicly available.

Regional variations in restrictions must follow differences in infection rates.

A support package must be ready to protect the industry and maintain as many jobs within it as possible.

On behalf of our members, Ipswich Central stands ready to do whatever we can to support your approach and your discussions with Government.

Yours sincerely

Terry Baxter

Chair of Ipswich Central

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