Independent shop owners in Birmingham express fears over possible further restrictions

Further restrictions have ‘not been ruled out’ ahead of Christmas to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant

<p>Joshua Allerton, the owner of Alleway’s Confectionary</p>

Joshua Allerton, the owner of Alleway’s Confectionary

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to attend urgent meetings this week to discuss plans for further Covid-19 restrictions.

He is understood to have been presented with three options to help minimise the spread of the Omicron variant, with reports suggesting another lockdown could be on the cards after Christmas.

Reports suggest Mr Johnson is considering implementing a two-week circuit breaker lockdown just after Christmas to curb the spread.

It is thought that an announcement has been planned for Boxing Day, with the new measures then to come into effect on 27 or 28 December, according to the Sunday Times.

Independent shop owners in Birmingham have expressed their concerns over the possible introduction of further coronavirus restrictions, including a lockdown which would be ‘detrimental to business’.

BirminghamWorld spoke to businesses in and around the city to see how they would be affected by further restrictions.

‘We are very concerned’

So far this month, Harvest Skincare, an independent organic skincare brand in Kings Heath, has had a good December in terms of trade, but they are worried about the possibility of further Covid measures.

Harvest Skincare in Kings Heath

Store manager Jan Hogan, said: “We are extremely concerned. We also have a treatment room, so if there are any kind of restrictions that close our shop or treatment room, unless there is a similar scheme to furlough, then we will massively struggle.

“The only reason we are still here after the previous lockdown is because of the furlough scheme.

“So far we’re having a good December and historically without pandemics we would need a good December to get us through and it’s been good so far, so were hoping to keep up our volume of sales throughout the rest of the week with no restrictions hopefully - but if massive restrictions come into place then without support we will struggle to survive.”

Alleway’s Confectionary in Allison Street, Digbeth

‘The variant is going to make some people worried’

Josh Allerton, the owner of Alleway’s Confectionary, a vegan sweets and treats shop in Allison Street, Digbeth, says his business has already been impacted somewhat by the current Covid curbs in place, including the government’s work from home orders.

He said: “So far it’s been challenging - especially the work from home order, because we’re located in Digbeth in the city centre, so it’s not like we’re just around the corner from a huge residential area.

“We’ve seen a downfall in footfall coming in, but we’ve also seen an increase in online orders and people wanting bigger basket values.

“But footfall is going to affect us. The variant is going to make some people worried and not come out.”

Josh is also understandably concerned about the threat of a new lockdown.

“It would absolutely be detrimental to us,” he said. “Because we’re in the city centre and if people aren’t coming here then we won’t get that passing trade.

“So the emphasis would be focusing online but another lockdown would make a massive difference to us.”

Henrietta Brealey chief executive of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce calls for action to support businesses

Birmingham city councillors Ian Ward and Brigid Jones have shared their concerns about support for businesses in a letter urging the government to swiftly protect those hardest hit by the latest restrictions.

They highlighted a report from the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, which asks the government to consistently review the need for additional financial support for businesses that are likely to suffer a drop in demand as a result of the latest measures.

You can see the report in full here.

Henrietta Brealey chief executive of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “More than a week has passed since the Prime Minister announced the introduction of Plan B measures, and we are still yet to hear of any concrete action from Government which will support businesses during one of their most important trading periods.

“Plan B measures have resulted in a significant blow to public confidence, already resulting in high levels of cancellations and a substantial decrease in footfall, and many businesses are becoming increasingly concerned about how they will survive this winter should restrictions continue to impact trade.

“As such, we welcome the support received by the Leader and Deputy Leader for Birmingham City Council in their letter to the Chancellor, highlighting our recent briefing paper and outlining the assistance that many businesses across Greater Birmingham so desperately need to see.

“We will continue to engage a wide range of regional partners and stakeholders to advocate for and support local businesses during this challenging time.”

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