Businesses back our call to ‘Leave Suffolk out of it’
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Business leaders from across the county have backed this newspaper’s calls to ‘Leave Suffolk out of it’ – with one boss saying a second lockdown could mean thousands of job losses.
Today, this newspaper is urging the government to continue taking decisions appropriate for local areas rather than any national lockdown because, as things stand, the number of cases in Suffolk and north Essex remain among the lowest in the country.
Andy Wood, Adnams chief executive, said a second national lockdown needed to be avoided “at all costs” throughout the whole of East Anglia.
The boss of the Southwold-based brewery and pub chain said: “The impact of a second lockdown on the tourism and hospitality sectors would be catastrophic.
“We have been very fortunate over summer that we’ve enjoyed good weather and we’ve had good support from the Treasury.
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“To lock East Anglia down now would mean that all of that cost was sunk, and the economy will be where it was before we came out of lockdown.
“That would not only curtail business activity, it would put thousands of jobs at risk.
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“We absolutely have to avoid a national lockdown at all costs. The prime minister himself has talked about a whack-a-mole strategy.
“It would be incongruous – if our rate of infection is incredibly low compared to other parts of the UK – to lock down East Anglia.
“It is clear that we are geographically distant, we have lots of space and can socially distance.
“We would say that local determination and keeping bits of the economy open is the way forward. And East Anglia is one of those parts of the economy that is an engine of economic growth.
“It should be kept open as long as the public health risks are minimal.”
Business owners from health secretary Matt Hancock’s own constituency have also come out in opposition to the proposed lockdown.
Mike Garling, who runs the LP nightclub and bar in Bury St Edmunds, spent £10,000 to ensure his business adheres to Covid-secure guidelines.
He said another lockdown would be “terminal” for his business.
Earlier this summer, Mr Garling transformed the dance floor of his nightclub into a lounge bar with protective screens between tables in a bid to be able to reopen safely.
“It’s unfair to impact everybody just because some regions are suffering,” he said. “If they impose a curfew or a lockdown then the sensitive confidence that has been building will disappear again.
“It would be terminal, to be honest. We’re fighting as hard as we can to build something up and it’s going to put everybody’s jobs in peril.
“We do our best with the current news and then with tomorrow’s news that investment is potentially pointless.
“If there is a new lockdown then there needs to be very swift financial support given to the businesses affected.
“Clamping everything down is just such a backwards step. There will be nothing left of the night-time economy.”
Mr Garling said that he felt it would punishing the people of Bury St Edmunds who, he said, had been abiding by social distancing rules.
“The behaviour of the general customer in town has been excellent and respectful of the rules. When you hear about certain places where people have been going wild, that’s not how it’s been in Bury from what I’ve seen – so it’s unfair to punish everybody.
“We just need a consistent track and trace system and a better, localised approach.”
Paul Simon, head of communications and campaigns at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said that a second national lockdown would come at a pivotal point in the county’s recovery.
“It is vital that any lockdown strategy that impacts on Suffolk doesn’t inadvertently undermine such efforts and impact on the broader economic recovery,” he said,
“Suffolk Chamber of Commerce believes that a national lockdown should only be implemented if the public health and longer-term economic benefits outweigh any short-term disruption to how businesses and society more generally functions. “With the furlough scheme coming to an end next month, the Suffolk jobs situation is at a pivotal point.
“New government initiatives, such as the Kickstart scheme, aimed at helping workers either already unemployed or at risk of becoming so, are very much to be welcomed.”