PM's plan for lifting Covid restrictions may be 'too late to save some businesses'

Business leaders in Lancashire have welcomed Boris Johnson's road map for reopening the high street - although they say it may have come too late for some in retail and hospitality.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 6:31 pm

The Prime Minister says non-essential shops can only start trading again on April 12 at the earliest - subject to a continued reduction in the Covid figures.

Pubs, bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen at the same time, but only serving customers outdoors. It will be another five weeks at least before they can trade indoors.

Preston BID, which represents around 800 businesses in the city centre, said it would have liked the doors to have been thrown open sooner than mid-April.

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City centre to stay under lockdown until April.

"Whilst today’s road map clearly sets out the government’s plan to re-open the entire economy, it’s hinged on the four tests being met, meaning we all have a responsibility to make this possible," said manager Mark Whittle.

"We welcome the plan, in that it at least provides some clarity and an opportunity for businesses to start preparing to re-open.

"We would, though, have liked to have seen retail and hospitality businesses being given the opportunity to trade, safely, earlier.

"Those businesses who are not geared up to re-opening, inline with the legal permissions, should still be supported until it’s possible for them to do so.

"Business support, especially for the high street, should be a key factor in the forthcoming budget - we’ve called on the Chancellor to recognise the need to extend the support programmes in place to ensure certain sectors are not disproportionately affected through no fault of their own.

"We look forward to supporting businesses in the city centre by rolling out our own localised plans for re-opening and welcoming patrons back to the city centre."

And Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, added: "Businesses have been waiting a long time for this day. The road map sets clear timescales which will go a long way to help firms plan to rebuild and recover.

“The government must now act and extend all mainstream business support measures until the economy fully opens and demand returns.

“Unfortunately, today’s announcement may have come too late for many businesses.”