Businesses will be encouraged by the Government’s latest steps to protect people from a spike in Covid cases during the winter, according to Shropshire Chamber of Commerce.

But there is still concern at a perceived inability of Westminster’s leaders to provide specific details about the circumstances which could trigger a return of potentially damaging restrictions.

“As we prepare to move into the winter season, businesses are acutely aware that there is a danger of a sharp rise in Covid cases,” said Shropshire Chamber’s director of business Ruth Ross.

“What businesses really need to know is the threshold for the return of any restrictions – and most importantly of all, the type of support they might reasonably expect to get if it happens.

“For example, will it be possible for companies to re-activate furlough in the event of another lockdown, as other countries are offering?

“With employers already wrestling with the implications of the changes in National Insurance announced by the Government last week, they need to know there are no nasty surprises around the corner.”

She added: “We are not expecting the Government to try to predict the future – merely to give businesses the confidence that if the pandemic does return with a vengeance, they won’t be left behind.”

The latest economic forecast from the British Chambers of Commerce suggests business investment is falling, indicating a very patchy and brittle level of current confidence.

Claire Walker, co-executive director, said: “Many businesses have adapted and adjusted to keep our economy moving forward.

“They have been getting on with the job, despite a lack of clarity around guidance which means they are still negotiating a legal minefield.

“A proper contingency plan should give businesses the confidence they need to move on from just surviving to growing, thriving and leading the way out of the coronavirus crisis.”