Tier 3 Decision will ‘weigh heavy’ – Birmingham Chamber

Local authorities across Greater Birmingham will stay at tier 3, health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed today.

Only Bristol and North Somerset (tier 3 to 2) and Herefordshire (tier 2 to 1) had their levels reduced. Areas in the south east and east had their ratings increased.

Under tier 3 restrictions, indoor entertainment, hotels (with limited exemptions) and hospitality businesses must remain closes, only operating takeaway, delivery and drive-through services.

The next review will take place on the 30 December with the announcement expected the day after.Henrietta Brealey

Business leaders are urging the Government to find solutions to enable businesses to reopen safely and #BackOurBusinesses with a realistic level of support.

Henrietta Brealey (pictured), director of policy and strategic relationships, the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said:

“While the news is not unexpected, it will weigh heavy on the hospitality, visitor economy, accommodation and events businesses in our region – and the many thousands more that supply them.

“We are deeply concerned that the so called “Christmas rules” will lead to a spike in cases in the new year and a continuation or even enhancement of these measures.

“The latest round of government support is spectacularly inadequate for many of our members, not even covering the rent.

“Furlough won’t protect jobs if their employer goes out of business. Bounce Back and Coronavirus Business Interruption loans could cost the government more if the company fails and cannot repay it than if the business is just supported through this time.

“We are urging the government to #BackOurBusinesses, use the c.£2bn in COVID-19 reliefs being returned by major high street retailers to increase the support available for impacted businesses and take action across key policy areas – and do it urgently.

“If we lose these businesses, it will take years for them, and the communities they employ, serve and contribute to, to recover.”

The GBCC’s #BackOurBusinesses campaign calls on the Government to:

  • Utilise the c.£2bn in business rates relief funds returned by major retailers (and from other COVID-19 support) for directly supporting businesses impacted by the tiers system
  • Take action on reliefs such as:business rates relief, NI contributions to furlough payments for closed businesses and VAT reliefs and deferral
  • Deliver greater transparency on the evidence based for targeting restrictions at certain sectors, the economic impact of key measures and the criteria by which tiers will be reduced to allow businesses time to plan effectively

Read more here.

More business reaction to the tier news

Keith Smith, Director, Caterfish LTD, a tenant of the Birmingham Wholesale Markets

“December is ours and our catering customers busiest and most profitable month in the calendar and yet here we are with our customers closed down , with many of them not knowing when or if they’ll reopen again. All in all it’s an extremely frustrating and concerning time for our business and our employees…when and how will it all end, and how many businesses will survive what is going to be a long torturous winter?

“The government and local council helped our business and most of the hospitality industry get through the first lockdown. The hospitality industry is the worst hit sector and we now hope that as we’re all forced to be closed down or severely restricted again that similar levels of grant support is given to help us get through the next six months when it looks as though the hospitality industry will be forcibly kept on its knees for a long, long time.

“Our restaurant customers feel they are the ‘forgotten and picked on sector ‘. After spending thousands of pounds making their premises Covid safe, training staff and  having to social distance tables, they then frustratingly see many crowded areas carry on as normal.”

Tony Elvin, General Manager, Touchwood

“It is hugely disappointing to learn that despite the significant efforts and sacrifices of Solihull people, we remain in Tier 3. Here at Touchwood, the management team and occupiers have demonstrated robust Covid secure measures, done everything asked of us and collectively communities and businesses have helped to bring the infection rate down.

“With no evidence to show that hospitality has materially impacted on the rise in Covid cases it is frustrating and disappointing that our well run restaurants, bars and coffee shops will not have had the chance to trade this December, a month so critical to the success of many hospitality businesses.”

Robert Elliot, President, Solihull Chamber of Commerce

“While it is disappointing that Solihull remains in Tier 3, there is a sense of inevitability that this would be the case.  Hospitality businesses and their supply chain have already suffered in terms of lost revenue and jobs, particularly in December. What is crucial now is that support is easily found, and delivered in a timely fashion. Solihull as a borough is blessed with great people, great locations, and fantastic hospitality businesses, venues and attractions.  It is vital that these are supported and can bounce back in 2021.”