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Business leaders react to latest COVID-19 measures announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Business leaders react to latest COVID-19 measures announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Business leaders from across the East Midlands have been giving their reaction to a raft of new measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new measures in a televised address to the public last night, after unveiling them to MPs in the House of Commons hours earlier. 

While he stopped short of imposing another full lockdown, he made clear that the Government would take further action if people don't adhere to the latest measures, or they don't have the desired effect. The measures announced yesterday are likely to stay in place for around six months and include:  

  • Closing workplaces which are not COVID-secure
  • Encouraging office workers to work from home where they can
  • Expanded use of face coverings indoors
  • Early closing for pubs and bars
  • Table service in restaurants only

The 'rule of six' still applies for groups meeting indoors and outdoors and tougher new fines and penalties will be brought in for anyone found breaching the rules.

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of East Midlands Chamber, said: “There’s a delicate balance to be had between economic and public health, but the dramatic shifts in sentiment from Government played out in the media has had a detrimental impact on the confidence of businesses and employees.

“Just a few weeks ago, we were being told to try get back to normal, but many will have heard announcements from the past couple of days and read it as being told to hunker down for the next six months.

“That’s no way for an economy to function and will have a real impact on decision-making among businesses, many of which have invested heavily in making their premises COVID-secure for employees and customers alike.

“Businesses have also voiced concerns about the impact that continued home-working has on staff mental health, the development of younger employees and broader business culture – issues often overlooked in discussions, but which can have a lasting impact well after coronavirus is under control.

“Specifically on hospitality, we’ve seen many pubs, restaurants and other businesses do all they can to ensure the right measures have been put in place to create COVID-secure venues for their staff and customers, and will feel victimised by the latest restrictions affecting their industry.

“Closing these establishments at 10pm feels an arbitrary time and will have a significant knock-on impact on other aspects of the night-time economy, particularly in town and city centres, such as hotels, takeaways, taxis and public transport. These businesses will require additional support to offset the income they will lose as a result of these measures.

“To really get the economy moving again, what we need is an effective test and trace system along with better communication from Government about the country’s strategy to overcome this. New or potential measures are being leaked ahead of announcements, have lacked proper detail and caused confusion.

“Obfuscation has real-world impacts in terms of how businesses invest, recruit and plan for growth, and can’t be allowed to continue.”

Meanwhile, Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National, said: “We’ve already suffered from six months of disruption linked to this virus, and small businesses and the self-employed will be dismayed at facing another six months of restrictions. 

“As we’re hit by a second phase of COVID-19, it’s paramount that the Government urgently steps forward with an ambitious second round of support measures to help firms survive. The job retention scheme is ending in six weeks and the deadline for bounce back loan applications is rapidly approaching.  

“Many businesses – particularly those at the heart of our night time economy and events industries – are now seriously fearing for their futures. Having lost the summer, a lot of them would’ve been pinning their hopes to increased trade in the run-up to Christmas. Their plans are now in disarray. 

“While it’s encouraging to see the Government striking a balance between protecting public health and protecting the economy, this fresh round of restrictions will cause significant disruption for thousands of small firms.  

“Policymakers now urgently need to map out the support measures that will follow-on from the job retention scheme, cash grants announced earlier this month and emergency finance initiatives. It’s important to remember that small firms have already spent thousands on putting safety measures in place but received no funding to support their efforts to do the right thing."   



COVID-19 Business Support Hub

These are challenging times for business and although our ethos is to only shout about good news, we've created COVID-19 Business Support Hub on the Love Business the website to support you with expert tips, advice and ideas from your fellow businesses to help you get through this COVID-19 crisis. 

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