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A business leader says the Government has “questions to answer” on how it intends to support local businesses in Lichfield and Burntwood impacted by the changes to coronavirus restrictions.

The Prime Minister has outlined new measures, including the need for all pubs to shut from 10pm, in a bid to curb the rise in COVID-19 cases.

But Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said the impact of the changes could hit companies hard.

Paul Faulkner

“The support that was made available for all businesses earlier this year was unprecedented and saved the livelihoods of many.

“However, with furlough winding down, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans and Bounce Back loans closing in the coming months, just as tougher measures are being brought in, the Government has a lot of questions to answer on how it intends to support businesses through this next wave.

“The Prime Minister said the Chancellor and Culture Secretary are working on measures to support this sector – and they had better be quick about it in order to save the wide range of businesses who are impacted.

“We urge the Government to swiftly bring forward a clear plan of what the next phase of support looks like, targeted at the most impacted businesses and sectors.

“For hospitality sector businesses, many will be directly affected by the curbs on operating hours.

“Many more in urban centres will be impacted by a fall in footfall from commuters and office workers as those who can are once again encouraged to work from home.”

Paul Faulkner

Mr Faulkner also urged caution regarding stricter penalties facing businesses who fall foul of COVID-19 regulations.

“While today’s announcement does of course present challenges for many businesses, we recognise the vital role that businesses must play in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“The Prime Minister repeatedly mentioned taking enforcement actions against businesses. Most companies we speak to have been strictly following the rules and would not be opposed to seeing more action taken against those that actively do not.

“However, it is vital that the Government and enforcement agencies distinguish between companies openly ignoring the rules and those making honest mistakes.

“In just the last two weeks, new requirements on test and trace, the rule of six, additional local measures and today’s announcement have been brought forward.

“It can be hard for businesses, particularly smaller businesses operating under stretched resources, to keep track of.”

Paul Faulkner

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