Responding to the announcement of a new national lockdown this evening, Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We understand why the Prime Minister has felt compelled to act on this spiralling threat to public health.

“What is slightly worrying, however, is the baffling lack of additional support announced for the businesses which are going to be severely affected by these new restrictions

“Make no mistake, the lockdown is a body blow to the Shropshire business community, at a time when they are already reeling from lost trade over the crucial festive period.

“There will be many firms in Shropshire which now find themselves in a precarious financial position, and face a period of further hardship and difficulty.”

He added: “The Government has invested billions of pounds into helping good businesses to survive this crisis, and save jobs – with a vaccine now being rolled out, we must not let this fall at what is potentially the final hurdle.

“As I have said before, when restrictions are tightened, financial support for businesses needs to be stepped up in equal measure.

“Otherwise, there is a real possibility that many of these companies will not be around to power our economy when we emerge from this dark time.”