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Bury St Edmunds town centre businesses react to second lockdown




A Bury St Edmunds business leader has described the second lockdown as a 'punch in the stomach' and has urged shoppers to support town centre traders.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District (BID), said while the announcement was 'disappointing considering the relatively low infection rates' in the area, businesses have been through a lockdown before with lessons learnt.

He said: "Immediately, it's a bit of a punch in the stomach.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District. Last week the BID launched a town centre gift card. Picture by Mark Westley
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District. Last week the BID launched a town centre gift card. Picture by Mark Westley

"The businesses worked so hard in terms of complying and because of other parts of the country not being as compliant, we're being punished for that.

"Having said that , we are where we are and we've got to deal with the here and now.

"We've got a lot of resilient, hard working businesses in the town and I'm confident we can get through it.

Mark Cordell is encouraging shoppers to support local retailers following the announcement of a second lockdown. Picture by Mark Westley
Mark Cordell is encouraging shoppers to support local retailers following the announcement of a second lockdown. Picture by Mark Westley

"Don't abandon your town centre businesses. It's only four weeks - we will be back but in the interim please support your local businesses in whatever way you can."

The BID is running a short campaign to encourage people to visit the town centre, while adhering to social distancing, before non-essential shops close from the end of Wednesday.

Our Bury St Edmunds is asking businesses to let them know about their online offers during lockdown so the BID can help promote them.

They will also run a campaign once the lockdown measures have been lifted to encourage shoppers back to the town centre.

Mike Garling, of LP, and Mark Cordell, of Our Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mecha Morton
Mike Garling, of LP, and Mark Cordell, of Our Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mecha Morton

Last week, the BID launched a new gift card which can be spent in multiple outlets across the town.

Mike Garling, who owns bar LP in Woolhall Street, Bury St Edmunds, said he preferred a lockdown to a curfew.

"The hospitality (industry) is literally on its last thread at the moment because it's so difficult to trade anyway when it isn't financially viable - that's why I prefer a lockdown," he said.

"It isn't good at all but something has to be done to sort this virus out."

They plan to run a reduced takeaway service on a Friday and Saturday.

Justin Sharp, owner of restaurant Pea Porridge in Cannon Street, said to have to shut a business twice in a year is a 'pretty harrowing thing to do' but 'the hammer blow isn't quite as severe as it was the first time'.

"We can face it a bit more head on," he said.

"Our aim now is to finish with a bang. We will be opening tomorrow and Wednesday and try to work out the best way forward for ourselves and our staff to make sure they're looked after."

The restaurant plans to launch an eat at home service focusing on goat meat later this week.

Clothes shop Javelin, in Abbeygate Street, will be open until 7pm over the next few days.

A Facebook post from the business yesterday said: "We’ve spent the last few months building back the business in line with government restrictions and putting huge efforts into making our stores as beautiful as possible for the festive period; having had many regular customers say we have been a cosy, welcoming haven in a troubled world in recent times.

"All of which makes last night's announcement nothing short of devastating.

"However, in the words of a well known song 'I get knocked down (or is that locked down?) and I get up again!'."

Jo Churchill, Bury St Edmunds MP, said: "I understand that this has already been one of the most challenging years we have faced as a country in decades for individuals and businesses.

"Unfortunately with Covid infection numbers continuing to rise both locally and across the country another national lockdown is required.

"Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on these further restrictions, the government has extended the furlough scheme for a further month, which will cover 80% of employees’ wages.

"This measure will help to support businesses across the constituency, with more support to be announced shortly.

"The people of Bury St Edmunds have followed the rules and guidance throughout this pandemic, which has helped to ensure our local NHS has not become overwhelmed.

"We must act now to contain this autumn surge and keep other services running. We are not going back to the full-scale lockdown of March and April - it is more targeted and less restrictive in some areas of our lives.

"However, from Thursday until the 2nd of December the basic message is the same: stay at home; protect the NHS; and save lives.”

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