19 Nov 2020
With the second national lockdown in England due to end on 2 December, St Helens Chamber has joined the national Chamber network in raising concerns about the lack of clarity over what form restrictions will take after the current lockdown.
British Chambers of Commerce has called for government to publish its plans with at least one week’s notice before restrictions are set to end on 2 December, allowing businesses adequate time to prepare to re-open and trade afterwards.
BCC is also pressing government to explain clearly why businesses in a number of sectors have been forced to close despite taking considerable steps at huge expense to comply with Covid-secure guidance, including leisure, non-essential retail and beauty.
Tracy Mawson, Chief Executive of St Helens Chamber, commented: “Businesses are naturally keen to be able to reopen as soon as possible in order to benefit from the pre-Christmas trade, but clearly they need to be given sufficient notice to prepare for this so they can ensure staff are prepared, they are fully stocked and of course all the necessary safety measures are in place.
“Being kept in the dark about if and when they can trade up until the very last minute is hugely damaging to their ability to bounce back quickly, so we are joining the Chamber network is calling on the government to provide businesses with the clarity they need over the next steps to bring the country out of lockdown, with at least one weeks’ notice.”
The British Chambers of Commerce has also submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to determine what evidence base, if any, was used to inform government guidance on the closure of businesses in England from November 5. This clarity is essential for businesses and government to work together on steps that avoid the need for business closures in future.
The call follows the BCC’s challenge to the Prime Minister to meet five business tests to limit the impact of Coronavirus restrictions on businesses and jobs and take a long-term approach to tackling the pandemic.
Dr Adam Marshall, BCC Director General said: “Nine months into the pandemic, business communities are still crying out for timely information and a clear strategy from government so that they can survive and rebuild.
“Delays and imprecision mean people lose their livelihoods. Firms are taking difficult decisions every day about their futures, and are tired of being left to rely on speculation and rumour. The government must urgently set out the exit plan for the end of national restrictions in England on 2nd December – and make it crystal-clear which businesses can operate, and under what conditions.
“Businesses have played their part by working hard and spending hundreds of millions of pounds to become Covid-secure, in line with official guidance. We must see the evidence for why many were forced to close again on 5th November, and absolute transparency on what may happen from 2nd December.
“Business communities – whether in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland – cannot take another year of rushed stop-start restrictions from governments while vaccines are rolled out. Broad-based workplace testing would help bridge the gap, maintaining employee confidence and helping as many businesses as possible remain open and trading at this crucial time.”
St Helens Chamber continues to support businesses through the Coronavirus crisis, representing their needs at the highest levels via British Chambers of Commerce.
A range of business support can be found on their website at: https://www.sthelenschamber.com/business/coronavirus
To speak to the Chamber’s Business Support Team, call 01744 742444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org