Tuesday 14 September 2021 4:23 pm

Mixed Covid-19 messages 'cannot define this winter’ for business, says London First chief

The boss of London First has urged the government not to allow mixed messages to define the upcoming winter for businesses, following the health secretary’s Covid-19 plan earlier today.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said that the government intends to dodge winter restrictions by allowing booster jabs for those over 50 and vaccinations for 12 to 15-year-olds.

“The government’s continued faith in the vaccination programme is encouraging,” chief executive John Dickie said. “It should be guided by the data on any restrictions needed in future, but must give businesses more than one week’s notice before any changes are brought in. Mixed messages cannot define this winter.”

In the winter strategy, the health secretary said ‘Plan A’ is a series of pharmaceutical interventions, with the objective of avoiding “unsustainable pressure” on the NHS.

But the government’s plan also proposes a Plan B – including mandatory masks in certain settings, the possible imposition of vaccine passports and even a return to working from home orders.

Festive misery

Last winter, businesses from across the retail and hospitality space suffered the impacts of a swift Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in the vital run up to Christmas.

Pubs and restaurants were plunged into festive misery, while larger stores that rely on their brick and mortar sales like Matalan, lost millions in revenue.   

The return of office life has been long-hailed a remedy for the London’s much needed high street revival.

A document released alongside Javid’s statement said that any working from home directive would cause “more disruption” to businesses and “has greater immediate costs to the economy” and so a final decision would only be made if unavoidable.

Dickie cautioned that the government should think carefully before re-imposing work from home measures.

“The benefits of coming back into our towns and cities are only just starting to be realised,” he explained, adding that “we risk a loss of jobs, trade and of the haunts we know and love if footfall disappears again.”