National lockdown ‘a true nightmare before Christmas’ for businesses

Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, said this year’s run up to Christmas is shaping up to deliver “some of the most difficult trading periods we’ve ever experienced”.

Footfall in the alreaady belegaured West End, which employs one in 10 Londoners, is expected to drop further – with people being told to travel only if they cannot work from home.

Mr Tyrrell added: “Many jobs have already been lost, and many more are at risk, unless trading levels increase or furlough is reinstated.

“In addition to emergency support to cover lost wages, the Government must make an immediate announcement that it will maintain essential support measures such as continued business rates relief after April next year.

“Retailers and the public need to be reassured that there is light at the end of the tunnel, as continued uncertainty and stop-start measures are undermining confidence and worsening an already catastrophic situation.”

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall described the new restrictions as “a devastating blow” to business communities.

He said market confidence has been “hit hard by the unclear, stop-start approach” taken by governments across the UK during the pandemic.

He said: “Many firms are in a much weaker position now than at the start of the pandemic, making it far more challenging to survive extended closures or demand restrictions.”

He called for Government support for businesses facing hardship, whether through loss of demand or closure, to be boosted.

He said: “The Government must not squander the time afforded to them through another lockdown to enable mass testing and fix test and trace systems – which hold the key to a lasting exit strategy for both public health and the economy.”