Economic recovery put at risk by new COVID-19 restrictions

Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
22nd September 2020

Business will be listening to the Prime Minister’s words over the next 24 hours as he and his ministers decide on what will be some major new measures to try and halt the march of the coronavirus pandemic.

Boris Johnson will be holding a COBRA meeting today - the first since May - to decide on new COVID-19 restrictions and there will then be a statement to the Commons followed by a national TV broadcast at 8pm.

The backdrop for this new drive against the virus was some hard (and scary) facts from the government’s chief scientific and medical advisers.

Those facts took the form of dire warnings that by 15th October we could be facing 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day with 200 deaths a day by November.

There were no politicians in sight as Professor Chris Witty, the chief medical officer and Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, were brutally honest about what we faced over the coming few months unless we all take drastic action.

“The virus is spreading - we are at the tipping point”, said Professor Whitty.

I have to say that I think we miss this candid honesty from medical and scientific experts - rather than the politicians.

I think we must now re-establish those daily COVID briefings from Downing Street giving us the latest figures.

Just what Nicola Sturgeon has continued to do in Scotland.

Against these stark figures on the continuing spread of the virus, it appears that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak is this week going to announce an extension of support to business through four loan schemes which have already backed £53 billion in lending to companies through state guarantees.

That’s according to the Financial Times which have sources in the Treasury and are rarely wrong with their predictions in this area.

While any financial support from government is welcome, companies really want to see an extension of the furlough scheme - particularly in the hospitality sector.

In his deliberations on this COVID precipice, Boris Johnson needs to be very careful that lockdowns that are too restrictive will probably hit business hard and really damage the economy.

The figures now being presented to government are very scary. There is no easy answer and business recovering now finds itself again in a cloud of uncertainty.

Everybody’s health and wellbeing is obviously the priority but government must be careful not to completely shut down our economy.

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