Tracy Mawson, CEO of St Helens Chamber is calling on the Government to offer businesses at least one week’s notice of what will happen when the COVID-19 lockdown ends. Tony McDonough reports
A Merseyside chamber of commerce chief executive says businesses are being “kept in the dark” about whether they can reopen on December 2.
Tracy Mawson, who took over the helm of St Helens Chamber in September, says there is a lack of clarity about which businesses will be able to open in the Liverpool city region when the current COVID-19 lockdown ends.
Prior to the month-long nationwide lockdown, the city region was operating under Tier 3 COVID restrictions. This allowed non-essential retailers and restaurants to open but forced pubs and bars not serving food to close.
British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has called for the Government to publish its plans with at least one week’s notice before restrictions are set to end on December 2, allowing businesses adequate time to prepare to re-open and trade afterwards.
The BCC is also pressing the 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.
Ms Mawson said: “Businesses are naturally keen to be able to reopen as soon as possible in order to benefit from the pre-Christmas trade. 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 BCC 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.
The call follows the BCC’s challenge to the Prime Minister to meet five business tests to limit the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and jobs and take a long-term approach to tackling the pandemic.
Dr Adam Marshall, BCC director general, added: “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.”