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‘Stop-start’ lockdown strategy will destroy confidence, says business leader

PUBLISHED: 16:42 01 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:42 01 November 2020

John Dugmore Picture: David Garrad

John Dugmore Picture: David Garrad

David Garrad

A Suffolk business leader described the second national lockdown as “a huge blow” to the county, as owners are once again forced to adapt to the new rules.

Primark and other high street stores, including many independent businesses, will close from Thursday  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPrimark and other high street stores, including many independent businesses, will close from Thursday Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Responding to the latest lockdown announcement, John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “While it is perhaps not surprising that England goes into a second lockdown based on the rising infection rate, there is no doubt that these new restrictions will deliver a huge blow to many in our business community, who have done so much to adapt and operate safely in a Covid environment.

“What we need is clarity and leadership from Government else confidence will continue to be hit hard if we carry on with what appears to be an unclear, stop-start strategy.

“Therefore our Chamber members need clear understanding of the Governments evidence based strategy, with or without a vaccine, so businesses in Suffolk and across England, can plan accordingly and with some confidence, else too much short term thinking will simply continue to cause frustration and confusion.

MORE: ‘With a fair wind’ and furlough Suffolk restaurants can survive a second lockdown, say bosses

Shoppers rushed to the high street this weekend to stock up on Christmas gifts before the lockdown  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNShoppers rushed to the high street this weekend to stock up on Christmas gifts before the lockdown Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Government needs to use this four week lockdown to enable mass testing and fix test and trace systems – which hold the key to a lasting exit strategy for both public health and the economy.

“There is clearly more detail to be pored over in the coming days, and the Chamber locally and nationally will be examining the detail of new restrictions and support very carefully.”

The furlough scheme, due to end at the weekend, is now being extended into December to support workers in the hospitality and retail sectors.

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Meanwhile, Michael Gove, the cabinet office minister, has said the chancellor is looking at extending the support offered to the self-employed.

On the Andrew Marr show on BBC One this morning he said: “The announcement about furlough that was made yesterday was about the extension of a scheme, that would have expired last night, throughout the rest of this month.

“And the Chancellor and his team are looking at every aspect of economic support and more will be said in the days ahead about how we provide it.”

MORE: National lockdown in run up to Christmas is ‘alarming’ say shop owners

Businesses need a clear strategy rather than stop-start approach, say Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBusinesses need a clear strategy rather than stop-start approach, say Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Gove also admitted today that the current lockdown could be extended beyond December 2 as he was interviewed on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

He said: “It will be reviewed on December 2 but we will always be driven by what the data shows.

“We believe all the measures that have been put in place will reduce the R rate below 1 and that is the point you will see a decline of the virus.”

Later, asked by Sophy Ridge could lockdown be extended, he answered: “Yes”.


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