UK businesses call for more support as PM warns of tougher COVID-19 measures

Suban Abdulla
·2-min read
CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 21: A sign in the window of a closed small business on May 21, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson's warning comes as recorded a further 57,725 cases of coronavirus cases on Saturday, the fifth day running that it has topped 50,000, and another 445 deaths. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

UK small businesses have sounded the alarm on Sunday after prime minister Boris Johnson warned of possible tougher coronavirus restrictions in England as infections continue to rise.

Johnson said that he was “fully reconciled” to the prospect of tighter measures, during an interview with BBC’s Andrew Marr.

"It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that may be tougher. I'm fully reconciled to that. I think the whole country is fully reconciled to that," he said.

As a result, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for the government to “throw everything it’s got” at making sure everyone gets the vaccine and keep “as many businesses as possible” operating “until the recovery can begin at Easter.”

“This is fast becoming a national lockdown in all but name,” FSB’s, chief of external affairs, Craig Beaumont, said. It has called on the government to “intensify and improve” its support package.

The business group told Yahoo Finance that it has given UK chancellor Rishi Sunak a plan on how to achieve that.

FSB is seeking “proper full small business cash grants of £10,000 ($13,673) rather than the existing £300 lockdown grant per week.”

Additionally, a “German-style revenue replacement; the full implementation of the directors income support scheme, and improvements to emergency loans.”

“This way small businesses will not have to fold and let people go, but instead will be ready to drive the vaccine-enabled recovery.”

READ MORE: Boris Johnson hints at tougher COVID-19 restrictions on the horizon

But in contrast, Make UK, which represents the UK’s manufacturing sector doesn’t expect further restrictions to “have much impact” having already “worked through the toughest initial lockdown.”

The group said that the sector “has been operating fully since the start of the pandemic” and that manufacturing was the first to transition to safe working practices.

The expansion of Tier 4 comes as COVID-19 cases rise rapidly across Britain. New cases hit a daily record high on Saturday. Official figures show 57,725 new cases and 445 deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours.

On 30 December, health secretary Matt Hancock announced that more areas in the UK were being put in Tier 3 and 4 restrictions, after London and South East and East England had already been placed in Tier 4.

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