Support call for businesses hit by delay in lockdown lifting

Business leaders are calling for support for companies in Coventry and Warwickshire hit by the delay to the loosening of lockdown restrictions announced yesterday.

Boris Johnson revealed that lockdown restrictions will not be eased on June 21, with so-called ‘freedom day’ delayed for a month.

The Prime Minister announced that step four of the roadmap will not go ahead in England on June 21.

Instead, England will remain at step three for four more weeks until Monday July 19 because two of the four tests are not met.

These are the tests on variants changing the risks; and the risk of a “surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS”.

However, there will be an easing of the rules from June 21 for weddings, care homes, and wakes.



Louise Bennett, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said many businesses would be “rocked” by the news and called for immediate government support for those affected.

She said: “Many businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire will, naturally, be rocked by the news that the lifting of restrictions has been put back.

“While the Government did stress that it would focus on data and not dates, June 21 has been talked about for many weeks now and businesses have planned accordingly.

“The events and hospitality sector, for example, could not wait until a week before to start taking bookings so it has had to plan around June 21.

“However, it is good to hear that exceptions have been made for significant life events, such as weddings, which can go ahead with more than 30 guests with Covid-secure measures.”

Ms Bennett added: “What’s vitally important now is that those businesses affected are given government support and that the help gets through immediately.

“Also, it is crucial that we get the message out there that many parts of the economy are open for business across Coventry and Warwickshire and those businesses need all of our support.

“Businesses have put measures in place to ensure they follow the Government guidance and make their customers feel safe to come out for a drink, a bite to eat, for shopping, a smaller event or for an overnight stay so the public can have confidence when heading out.

“Also, non-customer facing businesses have also got measures in place so that their teams can work safely in the same environment to deliver for their clients.”

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) has also responded to the Prime Minister’s announcement on the delay to the final stage of the unlocking roadmap.

It said the delay will be difficult for many small firms who had been hoping for the step four unlocking to take place on June 21 and that urgent support is needed for small firms carrying the burden of this latest delay.

Lee Osborne, development manager FSB Warwickshire and Coventry said: « So many small businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire will have been waiting for June 21 with bated breath as their chance to be fully operative without most of the restrictions and closures that have dogged us for much of the past 15 months.

« But despite a successful vaccine programme and all the best efforts from small firms, they will be bitterly disappointed to find they face at least another month of restrictions.

« For many people, it probably feels like life has been getting back to normal. But take a moment to remember that some small businesses have remained closed throughout the entirety of the pandemic.

« They have gone 15 months without income, all the while doing their best to support their staff, and they have now had their hopes of reopening on June 21 dashed. These sectors, and their supply chains, need ambitious and targeted support.”

“Ultimately small firms need urgent support now. They understand the need to take a cautious approach out of lockdown, but not at the sacrifice of businesses, jobs and livelihoods. So, the Government must urgently act to prevent further economic casualties”.

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