Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that the Government will delay stage four of its roadmap to end Covid-19 restrictions by four weeks has come as a blow to many businesses in the area.
East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said the news is a ‘huge disappointment’.
He said: “It means businesses will have to stagger on for four weeks longer than they’d anticipated.
"Without proper support, for some this may prove to be one setback too many. It’s crucial that the Chancellor responds immediately by providing enhanced support in the form of grants for businesses in the hardest-hit sectors until the economy is able to reopen fully.
“Every week that goes by in which restrictions are in place has a real-life impact on the owners of hospitality, events and leisure businesses in particular as they must operate significantly under capacity.
“Many of these companies, already tight on cashflow, will have spent lots of money on marketing, staffing up and perishable stock in preparation for a milestone that is no longer happening.”
The business leader has also called on the Government to postpone the tapering of furlough to help firms recover.
He said: “This must be the final delay to lockdown restrictions and, indeed, the four weeks should be a maximum period. The Prime Minister has consistently said his policy would be dictated by ‘data, not dates’ – therefore if the increase in Covid-19 cases doesn’t translate into significant numbers of hospitalisations and deaths, we would expect freedom to commence at the earliest opportunity.”
Federation of Small Businesses development manager Natalie Gasson-McKinley agrees that businesses have been left ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the delay.
She said: "So many small businesses will have been waiting for June 21 with bated breath as their chance to be fully operative without most of the restrictions that have dogged us for much of the past 15 months.
"It's crucial that we also understand the impact that these delays have on livelihoods as well as mental health.
"The July 19 must be the final date for when these restrictions will be lifted.”