Tier 4 of Covid-19 restrictions introduced and apply to Peterborough
Key unexpected and unwelcome update from 
John Bridge OBE DL

It was very tempting to respond with anger and disbelief last night that the Prime Minister chose to introduce yet again sudden and unexpected changes late on a Saturday with far reaching consequences for many leaving them with no time to plan.

His speech can be found here.  

My emotions from last night have not subsided as Christmas was already cancelled for many businesses and individuals, but even more will now suffer as a result of this last-minute decision. 

While Government must act on public health concerns, it must also address the economic consequences of its actions. There must be more help for firms being forced to shut their doors - and for those who have paid for stock they now can’t sell? What support will there be for companies whose cash flow projections have once again been thrown into chaos?

The introduction of an additional tier without warning or additional help is a huge blow to business people who wanted nothing more than to be able to trade safely through the holiday season and beyond.

With huge numbers of firms already on the edge, it would be reprehensible for further restrictions or closures to be announced in the future without a more comprehensive package of support in place that gives businesses the confidence that ministers will stand by them through an uncertain year ahead.

You can find all the details of the new tier system here.  

The Prime Minister said: if the facts change you have to change your approach. Businesses understand that and will of course respond. The Government must urgently show that it’s change of approach also extends to recognising the disproportionate effect these steps have on the mass of businesses specifically in Peterborough – particularly as so many have planned to recoup some of their 2020 lost revenue during Christmas and New Year period. The Chancellor must without delay announce exceptional and immediate cash and grant aid for all retail, leisure and hospitality business that will be shutting their doors today. He must also issue appropriate instructions to banks and landlords, and must suspend the payment of all forms of taxes and rates to national and local government bodies.

I have previously communicated the five tests the Chamber Network set out for how Government in our opinion should be tackling the ongoing crisis and they are:
  1. Are the restrictions evidence -based and targeted effectively?
  2. Are the restrictions clear and do businesses have time to prepare?
  3. Is support for businesses commensurate with the impact on them?
  4. Will the time that the restrictions are in place be used to significantly improve the Test, Trace and Isolate system?
  5. Is there a clear exit strategy for increasing and decreasing restrictions?
Here is an assessment of those tests based on the latest announcement:

Evidence: It is clear from the rising rate of infections and pressure on hospitals that Government needs to do more to address the public health emergency but businesses are yet to understand the rationale behind closing businesses, such as beauty salons, hairdressers and gyms, that have implemented Government safer working guidance at significant cost. 

Clarity: Constant chopping and changing has left many businesses and their customers confused about how the rules apply. 

Support: While this week's extensions to the Job Retention and business interruption loan schemes were sensible, what would be better is a long-term plan for business support - to provide a clear foundation for affected firms throughout 2021. Business cash flow must be supported during this difficult time to enable firms to survive and power our eventual recovery and the loss of the Job Retention Bonus many were expecting in early 2021 is a significant blow. We must also not lose sight that well over 2 million small business owners have still not received any financial support at all.

Testing: Significant improvements to the test, track and isolate system, which has not and is not working effectively, are essential if we are to have a functioning economy. Government should take concrete action to have a robust system in place to ensure that more people are tested more quickly, and that more people isolate when required.

Exit strategy: The last-minute addition of a new tier and constant moving goal posts makes it impossible for businesses to plan ahead with any degree of confidence. Government need to set out an approach that provides more stability and clarity for business. No more Saturday night unexpected and unwelcome announcements please.

Updated and new guidance for the Christmas period

In a real blow to so many this Christmas we are now told it is safest to only spend time with your own household or support bubble. On 25 December you may choose to form a Christmas bubble if you feel you really need to and the details regarding this, a legal requirement, are here

This however does not apply to people who live in a Tier 4 area such as Peterborough who must not do so.

In a Tier 4 area, you must follow the rules in your tier over the Christmas period. This means that you cannot meet other people indoors over the Christmas period, unless you ordinarily live with them, or they are part of your existing support bubble. Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household.

Following the introduction of tier 4 yesterday the government updated the guidance applicable to all of us for the Christmas period which can be accessed here .

Contact the Chamber

01223 237414 •  chamber@cambscci.co.uk
Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce
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