FIRMS in Essex are at risk of going bust if a local lockdown is implemented to control the spread of coronavirus, a business expert has said.
The Government has introduced a new three tiered, or traffic light, system to try to combat rising cases of the disease across the country.
Under the new rules areas which are deemed at the highest risk will face stricter lockdown measures, such the closing of pubs and restaurants, until the virus is brought under control.
Although Essex is not yet believed to be in the high risk category, David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chamber of Commerce, said the new rules were a cause for concern amongst business owners.
He said: “What we really do not want to see is a local lockdown because that would be quite debilitating for businesses in Essex. “A local lockdown in Essex could mean an end of some businesses although we are not quite sure of the extent of the impact it would have.
“I know there are many firms which are struggling and are concerned about going bust if there is another lockdown.
“It is not just a case of these businesses closing, this could also mean individuals losing their jobs.
“No business owner wants to put their staff or their customers at risk of getting ill, or even in the worst cases dying, but at the same time I think there is a strong feeling about the importance of keeping businesses going.”
Mr Burch said the Government’s new tiered system made sense as a way of controlling the virus but businesses must be informed of the exact criteria used to make decisions.
And he warned with Government support for firms being stopped or scaled back, the effects of a second lockdown could be devastating.
“There is the hope these measures will really refocus people’s attentions on what they need to do to stop a local lockdown in their area,” he said.
“It does come back by-en-large to the responsibility of individuals to make sure they social distance, wear masks and maintain good personal hygiene.
“I think one thing a lot of businesses have found frustrating is we have seen blanket announcements of increases in cases or outbreaks without any real clear explanation as to where this is happening.
“We do not really know exactly where these cases are or where these individuals have contracted the virus.
“The Government and local government need to be much clearer with the public and businesses about what is exactly going on.
“The situation needs to be handled very carefully.
“It is very easy to close a business down through these measures but very much harder to get them to open again.”