Why we must celebrate all Leeds has to offer as the city centre bounces back from Covid - YEP opinion

Closed shutters, empty streets and vacant offices.

Sunday, 11th April 2021, 6:00 am

You could hear a pin drop in the city centre when Leeds was first plunged into lockdown more than a year ago.

The city was almost unrecognisable. A silent Call Lane without its usual drunken revellers.Our bustling shopping centres sitting empty.

Since then, we’ve had life breathed back into restaurants with Eat Out To Help Out, then cut short by a 10pm curfew. Shops opened and then everything closed again.

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Our city centre is waiting - now it's up to you
Our city centre is waiting - now it's up to you

After a turbulent year, optimism is bubbling as non-essential shops and outdoor hospitality get the green light. We’ve started to make plans as we prepare for life post-lockdown.

Our favourite shops, bars, restaurants, galleries and museums need our support now more than ever before.

It’s a crucial turning point for the city centre as it starts to come alive again.

If Leeds is to bounce back from the pandemic, we must celebrate every sector, thinking about how we can support the businesses that have continued to support us during the pandemic.

The Yorkshire Evening Post has launched The Big Leeds Weekend to celebrate the best of Leeds - from street food eateries to our imposing theatres.

But the city needs your help.

Businesses have plunged thousands of pounds into making their venues Covid-safe, from protective screens to grand outdoor terraces.

LeedsBID chief executive Andrew Cooper has praised businesses for their collaboration. They’ve put competition aside and joined together to survive and to grow.

And now the city needs us to shop, to eat and drink, to visit shows and experience the best of Leeds this summer.

No business or sector can be left behind as the city bounces back from the tremendous challenges of the last year.

It’s time to reevaluate our spending habits, particularly as travel restrictions are eased and we can venture further afield.

Leeds has to come first.

And with some of the best shopping districts in the country, innovative theatre productions and restaurants offering food from around the world - why go anywhere else?

The diversity and sheer choice on offer in the city is something that’s easy to take for granted.

Our city centre is waiting. It’s ready to come back to life and transform into the vibrant hub we miss so much.

Now it’s up to you.

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