‘COVID chaos causing despair’ for business owners

Chief executive of Downtown in Business, Frank McKenna, says Liverpool hospitality entrepreneurs are ‘in despair’ over the new uncertainty over the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Tony McDonough reports

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Hospitality entrepreneurs are being left in confusion, says Frank McKenna


Liverpool business leader Frank McKenna says hospitality entrepreneurs are “in despair” at what he claims is “chaotic messaging” from the Government over the lifting of restrictions.

On Monday this week restaurants, bars and cafes were able to allowed to serve customers indoors for the first time since the last lockdown. Measures are still in place including social distancing and the wearing of masks.

According to the Government’s road map out of the pandemic laid out in February, all restrictions would be lifted on June 21, subject to favourable data from transmission and the vaccine roll-out.

However, despite cases being low and a large percentage of the population now having had at least one vaccine jab, outbreaks of the Indian variant of the various has spooked scientists and ministers leading to further uncertainty over the further loosening of restrictions.

Mr McKenna, chief executive of business lobbying organisation Downtown in Business, said: “Business confidence has taken another hit over the last few days as it has become apparent that the route map which the Prime Minister insisted was ‘irreversible’ in February is indeed under review.

“Many, particularly those in in the hospitality sector, are in despair at the latest round of messaging from Government. The prospect of another lockdown has knocked the stuffing out of many business owners, just at a time when the initial easing of restrictions had given everyone a boost.

“It is difficult to understand, given the levels of natural immunity to the virus that we now have, the success in vaccinating the vast majority in the most vulnerable groups, the low numbers of hospitalisations according to official data, and the amount that businesses have invested in making their office spaces and venues COVID secure, that we are being warned of further delays to opening up properly.

Frank McKenna
Downtown in Business chief executive, Frank McKenna. Picture by Tony McDonough


“It seems contrary to suggest that enough vulnerable people will be unvaccinated come June 17th and that the vaccines provide insufficient protection, or both, to put the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed over the summer.”  

Mr McKenna, who spearheaded a ‘take one for the team’ campaign last month, urging people to ‘take a test and get vaccinated’ also warned that Ministers were undermining their own promotion of the vaccine programme with their comments over the weekend.

He added: “They are urging people to get jabbed, but at the same time appear to be undermining the efficacy of the vaccine. If the vaccine protects against the new variant, why are further restrictions being threatened?

“Not for the first time, the government’s communications are all over the place. It is chaotic and is beginning to feel like Groundhog Day. For the sake of business confidence and for the sanity of many business owners, we need a much more consistent approach from the Prime Minister and his team.” 

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