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Gloucestershire Business News

Forest MP calls for coronavirus exit strategy

Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper has called for Parliament to be recalled to debate the latest coronavirus restrictions after the introduction.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new tier four restrictions for parts of the south and south east of England on Saturday, together with a toughening of the relaxed festive rules to only include Christmas Day.

Mr Harper, who chairs the Covid Recovery Group in Parliament, has called for the Government to be clear on how it will lift restrictions.

I an article for the Mail on Sunday co-written with fellow Conservative MP Steve Baker, he said: "Our response to Covid must be rational and balanced, not driven by panic, and should take full account of all the health and economic consequences of lockdowns and restrictions.

"The best Christmas present the Government could give the nation is a different, enduring and sustainable strategy for living with Covid that lasts beyond Christmas, which doesn't ask people to pay a heavy price for their freedom.

"That requires an exit strategy."

Tier four restrictions saw fresh closures for all non-essential retail in affected areas.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "We recognise that the government has difficult decisions to make and the situation with the pandemic is very fast moving, but this is hugely regrettable news.

"Retailers have invested hundreds of millions of pounds making stores Covid-secure for customers and staff, and SAGE's advice has said throughout that closing non-essential retail has a minimal impact on the spread of the virus."

She continued: "The consequences of this decision will be severe. For businesses, the Government's stop-start approach is deeply unhelpful - this decision comes only two weeks after the end of the last national lockdown and right in the middle of peak trading which so many are depending on to power their recovery.

"Faced with this news - and the prospect of losing £2billion per week in sales for the third time this year - many businesses will be in serious difficulty and many thousands of jobs could be at risk."

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