British Chambers of Commerce responds to new tiered system for Coronavirus restrictions

12 Oct 2020


Commenting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of a new, tiered approach to local Coronavirus restrictions in England – and following the introduction last week of deeper restrictions in other nations of the UK, British Chambers of Commerce Director General Adam Marshall said:

“Intensified restrictions will be a real blow to business and public confidence at a delicate time for the economy. Firms have put hard work and precious cash into making their businesses Covid-secure, and must be allowed to operate unless there is overwhelming and clear evidence to the contrary. Businesses cannot be subjected to a rollercoaster of stop-start restrictions with no end in sight.

“Speculation and rumour have badly eroded trust between Westminster, local government, and our businesses communities. At a time when clarity and transparency are critical, local business leaders must be more deeply involved in decision-making, so that the real-world consequences for livelihoods and communities are understood. The introduction of any new restrictions must go hand-in-hand with the appropriate level of financial support, both now and into the future.

“Above all, businesses need to see an exit strategy to prevent economic paralysis. Mass testing, faster processing and proportionate financial support for those forced to self-isolate are crucial to supporting businesses and communities in the months ahead.”

Below are comments from around the Chamber network.

Liverpool Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Paul Cherpeau said:

“Businesses across Liverpool are bewildered, frustrated and angry. A week of speculation and rumour has badly damaged confidence. Businesses need to understand the clear evidence for the restrictions that are now being imposed – as many have worked so hard to become Covid safe.

“Whilst our visitor economy will bear the brunt of these new restrictions, the percolating effect on supply chains is hugely concerning, in addition to the psychological impact upon our citizens, business owners and investors. It is imperative that the commencement of these measures coincides with an adequately funded and swiftly distributed package of financial support alongside a clear exit strategy for when these new measures in our city region will be lifted.

“Liverpool businesses and communities have been resolute in rebuilding confidence and prosperity since the original lockdown, with innovative developments between public and private sector such as the ‘Liverpool Without Walls’ initiative. Our City’s exciting Economic Recovery Plan will grow our local economy and stimulate jobs and investment but we must preserve our existing ecosystem to ensure the strongest possible base exists upon which our recovery can be built and be successful.”

St Helens Chamber Chief Executive Tracy Mawson said:

“St Helens Chamber is clear that business can’t be switched on and off like a tap. Business owners have invested in operating safely and should be able to continue to do so, maintaining the economy and our local jobs. These short-term measures devised in Westminster don’t sit well in the real world when business owners need confidence and employees need their jobs to remain.

“Every business is now concerned about future restrictions. We are calling for an effective track and trace system plus proper financial support for people who have to self-isolate and for all firms affected by employees unable to go to work and reduced trading conditions.

“While local firms have been extremely supportive of the need to lockdown in the past, we need more clarity and transparency at this stage, and confidence that the real-world consequences for our Members and communities are understood. Imposing these restrictions with a reduced financial support provision is a slap in the face to our wide Membership of small independent businesses whose livelihoods are on the line.

“We need to know the route-map to recovery for all sectors, and a guarantee that our vital manufacturing and logistics firms are able to keep operating and not become subject to a roller-coaster of restrictions.”