Following the announcement by the health secretary that tougher Covid policies could be in place before Christmas, many businesses have expressed dismay.
Sajid Javid, when asked if additional restrictions might be implemented this week on BBC Andrew Marr Show, stated that there are “no guarantees” of an epidemic.
According to the business community, it will cause irreparable damages and they call for financial support from government.
BBC spoke to one owner of a shop who said that his hope for normalcy is fading.
Andrew Marr heard from Mr Javid, that there was still uncertainty regarding the new virus variant but it is necessary to be more cautious given the speedy spread of this deadly disease.
There are no guarantees with this pandemic. I do not believe so. The health secretary stated that at this stage, we need to review everything.
On Saturday, scientists published a model that showed that, if ministers stayed true to current Plan B measures there would be an average of 3,000 hospital admissions per day in England.
The nail in the coffin?
UKHospitality’s chief executive Kate Nichols said that further restrictions could be disastrous for the sector. UKHospitality represents numerous restaurants, hotels, and leisure companies.
She said, “It is better to trade, even slightly, than being closed down completely.” There are many costs involved in closing down websites and then opening them again. A fourth lockdown could be the last nail in the coffin of some businesses.
The damage that can be done to consumers’ confidence could prove irreparable. Bookings are beginning to show an impact in February, March, and Easter.
According to the owner of several gift shops in inner London, who did not wish to be identified, what little trade is still being done would cease completely.
He stated that the city was becoming less and less livable and that what looked like a gradual return to normality a few weeks back is no longer possible.
There is no financial support. We must keep the shops open and pay rates, rents and staff costs. These fixed costs are not covered by our customers, but we still have a declining customer base during key trading periods.
- Omicron crisis talks between the Chancellor and firms
- Customers cancel their bookings and firms plead with them for assistance
- Hospitality ‘takes £1bn hit’ on Christmas parties
British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has over 80,000 members. They believe there should not be tightening restrictions without financial support from the Treasury.
BCC was among several groups who met with Rishi Unak on Thursday and Friday.
The CBI, Federation of Small Business and executive from Greene King and Nandos, as well as Whitbread (which owns Premier Inn) were also present on the conference call.
Hannah Essex, BCC’s co-executive Director said that the chancellor had listened to us and should now offer financial support to help businesses survive in these quiet months.
Many businesses will feel the effects of falling consumer confidence during this critical festive trading season.
While no one would like to see additional restrictions, the government should ensure that businesses affected by them receive commensurate support if necessary.
A Treasury spokesperson stated that the chancellor spoke to several business leaders and other industry figures on Sunday.
We are aware of the importance that the festive season is to many businesses. The government will engage constructively in how it can continue to support the sectors and businesses affected.
On Sunday, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, was also criticised by a Conservative MP for the economic harm caused by his “off-the bus, on-the bus” strategy.
Tobias Ellwood spoke on Times Radio and stated that this approach was detrimental to our economy, putting people at risk, and the NHS cannot cope.
It is important to plan for the future, as there may be other options. The government can’t keep the economy “locked down” and then try to revive it.
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