Fears new lockdown rules may be setback for return to the office
9th September 2020

‘This is another nail in the coffin’: Firms say new lockdown rules have left them fearing for the future and will be a setback to getting workers back to the office to save town and city centres

  • Boris Johnson announced stringent new ‘rule of six’ coronavirus restrictions 
  • Business owner says many see this setback as an opportunity to work from home
  • Gillian runs Lancashire-based Copa Fizz, a mobile gin and Prosecco bar
  • Had no income since February and said today’s news is ‘another nail in the coffin’
  • Beauty entrepreneur Grace Poston-Miles says customers are afraid to visit salon

Boris Johnson’s draconian new coronavirus restrictions have delivered yet another gut-punch to businesses owners today, who fear they ‘will never return to normal’. 

The PM told the House of Commons that a spike in infections seen over the past week left him no choice but to act as he introduced a new ‘rule of six’. 

From Monday it will be illegal to assemble in groups of seven or more anywhere in England, whether indoors or out.

But it has sparked fear among businesses, who fear their workforce will now choose to stay at home. 

Shop owners on Britain’s stricken high streets also worry they’ll see footfall plummet again as customers avoid going out.   

Jools Cardozo, the owner of Farringdon and Forbes Home Interiors in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, said the stringent rules could have ‘utterly catastrophic’ ramifications.

She told MailOnline: ‘I fear that we will never return to a new ‘normal’ as long as those that could go back to work stay away and continue to work from home.  

‘My business relies on footfall and the office workers support the high street but just as we are beginning to take one step forward we are now told to take one step back. It’s ludicrous.’

Beauty entrepreneur Grace Poston-Miles fears the new rules could make customers too scared to come into her West Sussex.

Gillian Bartlett runs Lancashire-based Copa Fizz, a mobile gin, beer and Prosecco bar which caters to weddings, popups and festivals across the North-West. 

She said since lockdown all the work she had booked ‘vanished overnight’ and said today’s announcement comes as another ‘nail in the coffin’.

Gillian Bartlett (second from right), from Lancashire-based Copa Fizz, said since lockdown all the work she had booked ‘vanished overnight’ and today’s announcement comes as another ‘nail in the coffin’

Beauty entrepreneur Grace Poston-Miles is the owner of the Grace Hair and Beauty salon in Chichester, West Sussex. She fears the new rules could make customers too scared to come into the salon

Jools Cardozo, the owner of Farringdon and Forbes Home Interiors in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, said the stringent rules could have ‘utterly catastrophic’ ramifications

As the move prompted fears a wider and more damaging lockdown might follow: 

  • Boris Johnson today insisted draconian new coronavirus restrictions are essential to ‘keep our economy going and schools open’; 
  • Oxford and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine trial is put on hold for safety reasons after a British volunteer had a ‘serious’ reaction that could have been caused by injection
  • Business leaders, MPs and scientists told the Prime Minister  not to lock Britain down again, with one think-tank warning a second shutdown would be ‘catastrophic’. 
  • The daily Covid death toll reached 30 yesterday – the most in six weeks;
  • Health bosses apologised for testing system failures after laboratory backlogs left many people unable to book;
  • The first ‘credible’ cases of reinfection by coronavirus are starting to be seen, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs;
  • Aviation minister Kelly Tolhurst was quietly replaced amid continuing fury at the lack of coronavirus tests at airports;
  • The number of patients waiting for an organ transplant has risen to a five-year high because of the pandemic; 

NEW LOCKDOWN RULES FOR ENGLAND FROM MONDAY 

  • Max social gatherings SIX PEOPLE
  • Applies indoors and outdoors
  • Applies in private homes
  • Applies in pubs and restaurants
  • Does NOT apply to schools or workplaces
  • Does NOT apply to weddings, funerals, team sport
  • Does NOT apply if household bubbles are bigger than six people
  • Police will be encouraged to break up larger groups and issue £100 fines, which will then double on each repeat offence up to £3,200

Ms Cardozo added: ‘There will be many that see this latest setback as an opportunity to work from home but this is not the attitude that we need right now especially when as a country we are faced with adversity again just as we were all beginning to look forward to Christmas.

‘I fear we are entering a very testing time as a result of Boris Johnson’s latest announcement and as a business owner it would be utterly catastrophic if we faced another national lockdown. 

‘I do not think many business would survive if I am being totally honest and I fear for our country.’

Gillian Bartlett from Copa Fizz told MailOnline: ‘When the relief from lockdown came, I was left with smaller gatherings up to 30 people. 

‘I secured a small wedding reception in the Trafford borough, which is now subject to increased local restrictions so can’t go ahead. 

‘I then had a birthday party for 50 people which now can’t go ahead. I just can’t find an outlet where I’ll be able to trade.’

Gillian contracts staff for larger events, but has had no income since her last event in February. 

This year she expected to turn over in excess of £60,000 and was set for her busiest season yet, with race meetings, weddings and Christmas parties and markets.  

‘We can’t lock the UK down again’: Scientists, MPs and industry leaders warn Boris another coronavirus shutdown could cripple the country 

Boris Johnson was last night urged to think very carefully before imposing a new lockdown in response to a spike in virus cases.

Business leaders, MPs and scientists told the Prime Minister to consider other options first, with one think-tank warning a second shutdown would be ‘catastrophic’.

Concern within government was prompted by figures on Sunday showing there had been 2,988 new infections in the previous 24 hours, the highest daily rate since May 22.

Monday’s numbers were at a similar level, with an additional 2,948 positive cases up to 9am, a jump from the 1,175 reported on Saturday. The latest death toll of 30 was the highest in six weeks.

But Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs said: ‘With UK case numbers at a fraction of where they were back in March, a second lockdown would be catastrophic and should be avoided.

 

‘Most events are held at weekends from Easter through to September you’re pretty much out every weekend, Friday to Sunday. December can be our most profitable month.

‘I’ve not had any wages since February, and I’m not eligible for support from any of the government’s schemes,’ she added. 

‘I’m just trying to ride it out, that’s all I can do. This is yet another nail in the coffin today. 

‘Nobody is going to have a celebration with five people, paying to bring in bar services.  

‘An awful lot of businesses are being forgotten about in the government support schemes. I fear for hospitality.’  

Grace Poston-Miles, who owns Grace Hair and Beauty salon in Chichester, West Sussex told MailOnline: ‘I feel as though since we have reopened after lockdown, the social aspect has been removed. 

‘Previously we would have clients booking appointments together so they could catch up and get ready for nights out but now with distancing measures and the new rules this is no longer possible. 

‘Whilst we have been busier than ever, there are still clients who’ve chosen not to visit the salon as they are still unsure. 

‘I think these new rules could possibly make people feel they still shouldn’t be visiting ‘non-essential’ businesses. 

‘I’m very lucky that my team are so hardworking and I’ve not had any issues with them coming back to work – but I know others who have had staff members that are nervous of getting back.’ 

Ms Cardozo said employers ‘need to tackle this problem and act now to get the workforce back into the towns and cities.’ 

She added: ‘It has been mixed messages from day one which have thoroughly confused the public and given those an opportunity to abuse the rules on social distancing which has lead us to where we are today. 

Gillian Bartlett runs Lancashire-based Copa Fizz, a mobile gin, beer and Prosecco bar which caters to weddings, popups and festivals across the North-West

This year Copa Fizz expected to turn over in excess of £60,000 and was set for its busiest season yet, with race meetings, weddings and Christmas parties and markets

The PM told the House of Commons that the spike in infections seen over the past week left him no choice but to act

‘It is only dangerous to be in large groups if you do not socially distance and observe the rules so returning to the office is a must and vital to the economy and employers need to take action.

‘Rather than restrict everybody’s movements the government should get tougher with those disobeying the rules, a £100 fine is not enough of a deterrent in my opinion and as we have seen it is the partying youngsters that are in the group that is showing more COVID cases than any other.’ 

Roger Barker, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors told MailOnline the return of stringent restrictions could ‘dent consumer confidence’.

He added: ‘The rules may also have a knock-on impact on ​business plans and attitudes towards things like public transport ​and returning to offices.

‘What’s crucial is that the support for businesses reflects the restrictions they are having to operate under. 

‘The Government should think twice about winding up some of its flagship schemes, with the virus still in circulation. ​Developing a stronger package of business support for local lockdowns is also essential.’

In his first reversal of the easing of national lockdown, Boris Johnson last night warned a surge in cases must not be allowed to get out of control.  Britain reported 2,420  new coronavirus cases yesterday, down from the almost three thousand recorded the two days before

The UK has yet to see a large spike in coronavirus deaths. It yesterday announced 30 more Covid-19 deaths – the highest one-day total for six weeks . Europe has also seen large spike in cases but the number of hospitalisations and deaths has so far remained low

The PM was last night urged to think very carefully before imposing a new lockdown in response to a spike in virus cases.

Business leaders, MPs and scientists told the Prime Minister to consider other options first, with one think-tank warning a second shutdown would be ‘catastrophic’.

Concern within government was prompted by figures on Sunday showing there had been 2,988 new infections in the previous 24 hours, the highest daily rate since May 22.

Monday’s numbers were at a similar level, with an additional 2,948 positive cases up to 9am, a jump from the 1,175 reported on Saturday. The latest death toll of 30 was the highest in six weeks.

But Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs said: ‘With UK case numbers at a fraction of where they were back in March, a second lockdown would be catastrophic and should be avoided.

Boris Johnson says he wants EVERYBODY in the UK to be able to take a coronavirus test EVERYDAY to get life back to normal after Matt Hancock blasted people for needlessly booking checks 

Boris Johnson today said he wants everybody in the UK to be able to take a daily coronavirus test in order to get life back to normal after Matt Hancock blasted people for needlessly booking checks. 

The Prime Minister said his ‘vision’ for the future is for the whole nation to have access to a pregnancy-style test which would reveal within 15 minutes if someone has the virus. 

The PM said the so-called ‘enabling tests’ could be used at the start of the day so that workers know for certain whether they are infected and need to stay at home. 

His comments came after Mr Hancock blamed an ongoing test and trace fiasco on people without coronavirus symptoms trying to get checked.

The Government is facing mounting criticism after reports of numerous people with symptoms being unable to get a test or being told they have to travel long distances to get one. 

The Health Secretary said people without symptoms unnecessarily booking tests was putting the system under strain. 

He also hinted Covid tests could be rationed unless people who are fit and healthy stop draining capacity, as he said: ‘We’ve got to be firmer, I’m afraid, with the rules around eligibility for testing.’

Mr Hancock said it was ‘not acceptable’ for people to ask for a test if they have no symptoms.

‘Sweden has shown us a more sensible way to balance risk, liberty and the economy. The Government’s justification for the nationwide lockdown in March was to protect the NHS. After six months of preparation, it is very unlikely that the NHS will be overwhelmed by a second wave.’

Mike Cherry of the Federation of Small Businesses said the first national lockdown was incredibly damaging, adding: ‘If we can avoid a second through the utilisation of alternative measures to contain the virus, that would give hope to a lot of small firms as they try to get back on their feet.’

Tej Parikh of the Institute of Directors said business leaders would be flinching at the prospect of a return to heavy restrictions.

‘It’s paramount that whatever measures have to be taken, the support for businesses matches them,’ he said.

‘The Government should also be wary of withdrawing existing support too quickly, as the virus isn’t done and dusted yet.’

Shaun Fitzgerald, a Cambridge professor and government adviser on social distancing, urged the public to take more responsibility. He said: ‘Perhaps the question should be ‘could I be doing something differently to help?’ For example, can I reduce the frequency I go to the shops by planning ahead more rigorously with my grocery shopping?

‘Am I washing my hands as regularly as lockdown? There are lots of things perhaps which we can all do to help.’

Responding to last night’s Government announcement that social gatherings of more than six people will be banned from Monday, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘This is just mad. It’s ludicrous.

‘This will be a hammer blow to the economy just as we were starting to get things on track.

‘Why is it that we are having this ‘push me pull you’ approach? This can’t go on.’

Former environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: ‘Going back into lockdown would be a huge setback for the economy. I hope the Government will exhaust all other possible options before they consider the drastic step of closing down the economy all over again.’

Tory MP Steve Baker, a former Brexit minister, said: ‘A new national lockdown would spell economic, non-Covid health, educational, civic and social doom. It cannot be allowed to happen.’

Yesterday Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he would not ‘shy away from taking targeted local action’, such as that imposed yesterday in Bolton.

WHERE ARE THE LOCKDOWNS ACROSS THE UK?

Revellers take to the streets in Bolton city centre after further coronavirus lockdown measures were put in place  

Caerphilly, Wales

Wales’s health minister has said local lockdown in the county borough of Caerphilly will not be lifted until October ‘at the very least’.

People will not be allowed to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse after the restrictions come into force at 6pm on Tuesday.

Everyone over the age of 11 will be required to wear face coverings in shops – the first time this will be mandatory in Wales. Meetings with other people indoors and extended households will not be allowed, while overnight stays have also been banned.

Western Scotland

Lockdown restrictions on household visits across western parts of Scotland have been continued for a further week – as well as being extended to other council areas.

Measures – originally introduced in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire – now also apply to East Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire.

The restrictions bar people from visiting separate households in these parts of the country, while also prohibiting them from visiting homes in other local authorities which have not been impacted.

The measures also mean indoor visits to hospitals and care homes will be limited to essential visits only to protect the most vulnerable.

Bolton, England

Hospitality venues are being restricted to takeaway-only in Bolton as part of new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the town, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told MPs.

Bolton Council said on Saturday it was introducing tougher measures ‘with immediate effect’, with people asked not to mix with other households in any setting, either indoors or outdoors, and to only use public transport for essential purposes.

The council said the new restrictions aim to prevent a local lockdown, after the town’s infection rate increased to 99 cases per 100,000 people per week – the highest in England.

Those aged between 18 and 49 account for more than 90 per cent of the cases, the local authority said.

Parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire, Preston, and West Yorkshire

If people live in one of the affected areas they must not host people they do not live with in their home or garden, unless they are in their support bubble.

You also must not meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside of the affected area, unless they are in your support bubble, according to the Government website.

A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households within a bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.

Blackburn, Oldham and Pendle

As with the above, there is a ban on two households mixing indoors or in a garden.

People should not visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances.

And in specific areas with additional restrictions, people should not socialise with people they do not live with at indoor public venues or outdoor venues such as parks.

Leicester City

People should not have visitors to their homes or socialise with people they do not live with in other indoor public venues such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions.

They also should not visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances.

There are no local lockdown measures in Northern Ireland so far.

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