The business lobby group said today’s new message to avoid unnecessary travel and meeting indoors would be seen by many as a ‘partial local lockdown’, and would prevent some businesses closed since last year from reopening with the rest of the country on June 21.
FSB also said Government should act quickly to affirm businesses in affected areas would not have to resume paying business rates on July 1, and called for new financial support packages with the focus on sooner rather than later. Business rates are currently exempt in retail hospitality and leisure, but payments resume next month, although at a reduced rate.
“On Monday Matt Hancock told Parliament vaccines have broken the link between Covid infections and hospitalisations but now we’re being told to limit our movements and avoid indoor situations. This is a devasting ground-hog day for Greater Manchester,” said FSB Development Manager in GM, Robert Downes.
He added: “The guidance leaves many questions unanswered, particularly about how affected businesses will be compensated as we are now in a very different place now today. It will feel to many like a partial local lockdown, and it’s hard to argue with that.
“Today’s development also adds a real air of uncertainty to what June 21 will look like here. We need some clarification about what this means for us in GM – especially with the business rates holiday about to end. We are in the situation again where we here are being asked to do things differently than most other places.
“As was the case last year, if businesses are open, facing ongoing running costs but with their customers being advised to stay away, this will only do further damage to their ability to survive, and further financial support is crucial if this advice proves to affect footfall and result in a drop in trade.
“We should also think about what this means for the wider town and city centre recovery. This will have dampened any enthusiasm for a return to work for many office workers and bosses, and daytime economy businesses will be just reeling at this development.”
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