Gloucestershire business fears over 'Winter plan'
By Richard Wright | 15th September 2021
Business leaders in Gloucestershire have expressed concerns about the Government's Winter plan for dealing with coronavirus, especially the possibility of further lockdowns.
Ian Mean, Gloucestershire director of Business West, said: "Business will be feeling somewhat worried by Boris Johnson's winter Covid plan.
"Despite his promise that the road to some sort of normality would be irreversible it looks as though he is prepared to go back to his toolbox of curbs - compulsory facemasks, vaccine passports and work from home orders plus even the dreaded lockdowns."
Ian added that businesses want to protect their employees as hospitalisations rise but companies needed to know as early as possible if curbs are to be introduced.
He said: "The economy is just recovering and business is starting to get back confidence - Boris simply must keep companies in the picture or risk damage to the recovery."
Sam Holliday, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, Gloucestershire, said that any thought of further lockdown restrictions would obviously be unsettling for business but it was right to keep options open and alternative plans in place.
He said: "All we would ask is that with any future plans the Government has put together it also has one to protect and support businesses if we hit troubles again because just as we're starting to see signs of genuine recovery, we need that certainty of support to keep everyone firmly on track."
Hayley Parker, company director Ops-Box, the business support firm, said: "If the yoyo-ing that we have all seen over the last 18 months continues, then consumer and business confidence will be impacted, which will ultimately affect local and national economies.
"Scenario planning is going to be important so that all eventualities are considered & prepared for given the uncertainties.
"The key thing is the need for lessons learned to be taken into consideration and early planning. To do this well, businesses require consistency in rules and some level of certainty to support them. With well laid out plans, employee confidence will be built as well as Company owners being prepared, rather than having to react to last minute changes."
Steve Gardner-Collins, chairman of Visit Gloucestershire, said the prime minister's update had presented some certainty for the leisure and hospitality sector that there is a plan.
He said: "We are encouraged to continue with caution and hospitality and tourism businesses in Gloucestershire are already doing a great job at keeping measures going and ensuring practices are as safe as they can be.
"Autumn and Winter are challenging months so we need people to venture out and spend, you'll find all the usual entertainment, dining experiences and our visitors from further away are very much welcome to visit Gloucestershire."
Meanwhile, Matthew Fell, the CBI's national Chief Policy Director, said: "Business is clear that the government must leave no stone unturned in its efforts to keep the economy open.
"Clear forward guidance for firms about what measures will be introduced under Plan B should infection rates rise will maximise their ability to plan with certainty. Transparency about how and when those decisions will be made is essential."
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