As national media reports the government’s Covid “Plan B” could be announced sooner than expected, a senior Lincolnshire County Councillor has called for businesses to have certainty over Christmas and the New Year.
National news outlets including BBC and Sky News have said Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet are this afternoon meeting to discuss whether to implement measures which could include COVID vaccine passports and a return to the work from home order for millions of people.
If agreed, further statements could be made as early as today (Wednesday).
Lincolnshire County Council’s executive portfolio holder for economy Councillor Colin Davie said the challenges of COVID-19 had not gone away, adding: “it’s quite clear to me that as a global society we’re going to have to live with COVID for many years.”
However, he said there needs to be a “better system than, every winter, going into a period of uncertainty and potential lockdowns and restrictions”.
“If we do go into a further period of restrictions it’s not going to help business confidence in terms of the future.
“Businesses need certainty, we all need certainty, so we can plan our lives and live our lives in the way we wish.”
He understood, he said, the need to stop the NHS being overwhelmed in the face of the Omicron variant, but added: “We’re putting so much money into the NHS now, we’ve got to have a better system”.
“Government needs to be very clear, whether that’s for the whole period or whether it’s a short break, or whether new variants might come along that sends us back to square one.
“Because if that was to happen, then I think we will be living in a very different world going forward and that will be very challenging indeed.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic more than 900 businesses in Lincolnshire, which didn’t qualify for government help or support, have been funded and supported with around £11.5million of funding which has been made available.
Councillor Davie said the council had “stepped up to the plate”, but warned there will still be tough times to come.
The Federation of Small Businesses has also called for clarity.
Lincolnshire Development Manager Katrina Pierce said today: “The tremors warnings […] are already causing concerns for Lincolnshire’s small businesses.
“After 21 months of on and off limitations on their ability to trade, make a living, retain jobs and keep motivated, they will be heavy-hearted today to learn that they may yet again have to spend time and money – money that they don’t really have – to comply with yet more rules.
“Of course responsible business owners across the county will do what is asked of them to keep their staff and customers safe, but it will be difficult.
“In return they need urgent clarity on what Plan B really means for them and indeed if there is a Plan C that features strong and relevant business support should the Government feel they need to go further in the coming weeks and months.”