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Businesses face tough winter without government support, says Cherpeau

A Liverpool business leader has called on the government to provide more support for businesses in light of the latest restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Paul Cherpeau, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber, says the introduction of mandatory face coverings in indoor settings, vaccination passports for larger venues and advice to work from home where possible will have a cumulative negative effect on businesses in a range of sectors.

He said:

“The move to so-called Plan B restrictions to tackle the Omicron variant will leave many businesses fearing the worst over what would otherwise be a busy and profitable Christmas period. While they will naturally want to protect their customers, operators in the city region’s tourism, hospitality and retail sectors will once again be amongst those feeling the tightest financial squeeze.

“More people working from home lower footfall for cafes, restaurants and retailers, while some customers have already chosen to cancel Christmas parties and other events. This clearly reduces businesses’ ability to make money, pay staff and meet their bills and it also has a knock-on effect along the supply chain, ultimately hurting confidence across the regional economy.

“Many businesses have innovated to adapt to new ways of working, but the updated rules around masks and vaccination passports will still add a further layer of bureaucracy for owners and employees. Many firms will not be able to simply absorb those burdens of cost and time, especially if their customer levels and income are dented by customers staying away, so they need to know they will be supported as they observe the new rules.

“The government needs to provide a clear model of financial support that will be made available to businesses and staff as these latest measures – and any future tightening – begin to bite. Without state support, some firms will not survive the winter, so we urge the government to give businesses greater confidence and reduce the concerns of those that have already been hit so hard by the pandemic.”