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East Midlands Chamber News

Lessons must be learned from Leicester situation in new three-tier local lockdown system, says East Midlands Chamber

Responding to the Government’s announcement regarding a three-tier local lockdown system, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “The principle of a tiered lockdown system makes it much easier to understand than the haphazard approach we’ve had until this point, which has only served to cause confusion, but it needs to be applied sensibly.

“We know, for example, there have been large spikes of coronavirus cases in a number of university cities, which universities are working to contain. But in these circumstances, the cases are fairly concentrated in certain areas and there are many wards where cases remain relatively low.

“This means decisions on local lockdowns must be based on more than numbers and instead consider the wider context, such as the extent to which cases are contained within certain communities and the trajectory at which they are increasing or decreasing.

Leicester lockdown lessons must be heeded by Government

“An exit strategy has to be absolutely clear. Our region was home to the first city to go into local lockdown, when stricter measures were placed on Leicester at the end of June. These have yet to be lifted fully and there are many lessons we can take from the way restrictions have been handled here.

“Firstly, a robust communications plan is crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page is critical. There have been occasions when people in Leicester have awaited an update to the situation but the Government has missed its own review timetable, meaning the city has often felt forgotten about.

“Also, we’ve seen the huge impact a local lockdown has had on Leicester businesses so the Government must be ready to respond with additional, tailored support in the form of grants if and when required in order to prevent companies that would otherwise be viable from collapsing due to enforced closure.

Grants for businesses not enough

“While Rishi Sunak’s announcement on Friday provided some welcome relief to employers in the extension to the Job Support Scheme, it’s likely the £3,000 monthly grants that are being offered won’t be anywhere near enough to plug the gap needed for businesses to meet fixed costs.

“There has also been little consideration of the knock-on impact this will have on other businesses in the supply chain that aren’t necessarily forced to close but will be significantly affected by losing customers, as well as other associated industries that rely on the hospitality trade, including – but not limited to – transport providers.

“Alongside a better communication strategy for the general public so they are kept abreast of how decisions are made and reviewed, it’s crucial that Westminster doesn’t just take a sledgehammer to large swathes of the economy without proper consultation with local authorities. These are best placed to understand how their areas work and will have ideas on how to make subtle changes that don’t grind entire cities and regions to a halt.”

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