Shropshire Chamber of Commerce is calling on the Government to ensure extra financial support is made available to businesses hit by the ‘hammer blow’ of a delay in the total lifting of lockdown.
Dozens of businesses across the county which were hoping to fully reopen on June 21 now face the prospect of remaining closed, or severely restricted until mid-July.
Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber, said Boris Johnson’s announcement would have a major impact on the county’s nightclubs, live music venues and theatres.
“These businesses have been battling hard to stay afloat for the past 15 months, and were banking on next week’s ‘freedom day’ as the much anticipated start of their long road to financial recovery.
“While we all understand the reasons for the Government’s caution, we need to see swift and robust action to ensure that this latest announcement does not tip these businesses over the precipice.”
He said the delay to the removal of restrictions would come as a ‘hammer blow’ to those firms which must now remain closed for up to another five weeks.
“We must ensure they receive the support, and the clarity, that will give them a chance to come through this.
“Some entertainment venues can continue to viably operate below full occupancy, but not for a prolonged period – they will face significant challenges if the situation continues for too long.”
Mr Sheehan backed the British Chambers of Commerce’s call on the Government to provide further cash grants - at least equivalent to levels provided during the first lockdown, and delay the tapering of government payments into the furlough scheme, planned for the start of July.
He said the government should also consider extending the trade credit reinsurance scheme beyond the end of June to minimise possible disruptions in insurance coverage.
Other measures being suggested by the business community include
an extension of the VAT deferral scheme and the 100% Business Rates relief for eligible businesses.
“Given the length of the delay and the impact on hospitality and leisure firms in Shropshire, this should also be worthy of consideration,” Mr Sheehan said.