The Government’s new ‘work from home’ announcement will come at a huge cost to many local businesses, according to Shropshire Chamber of Commerce.

Chief executive Richard Sheehan said: “This is a crucial time of year for many public-facing businesses, particularly those on our high streets relying on healthy Christmas trade.

“The announcement that staff should once again work from home ‘where they can’ will come at a huge cost to all those which rely on footfall in Shropshire’s town centres.

“As a result of last year’s lockdowns, many firms now have well-established remote or hybrid working practices which will provide some resilience, but there will be many more that will be badly affected.

“After surviving the difficulties of last year, Shropshire retailers really need a prosperous festive season, and it’s vital that there is support in place to help them once again.”

Mr Sheehan said the British Chambers of Commerce had been calling on the UK Government for several months to set out what contingency plans for business would look like if further restrictions were needed this winter.

“Yet again, firms are now being asked to make changes at the very last minute, and it’s inevitable that this will damage consumer confidence and impact on order books and revenues.

“We know from our research that many Shropshire businesses have only just begun to get back on their feet, and are facing cashflow and recruitment challenges. They need to know that the Government will support them through this latest setback.”

Mr Sheehan also joined calls for full details to be released about how hospitality businesses will be expected to implement the more stringent policy on Covid passes.

“Chamber businesses have told us repeatedly that this could prove difficult to implement and police effectively without comprehensive support and clear guidance.

“The full backing of Government and authorities is needed in enforcing this policy - to avoid putting staff at risk of harassment or even violence.”