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ALMOST HALF OF BUSINESSES IN THE EXETER AREA EXPECT TO FEEL THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF ‘PLAN B’

Clodagh Murphy
  • 77% of respondents to a recent poll expect stronger measures to be introduced in January
  • 46% expect a negative impact on their business because of the move to ‘Plan B’
  • 47% of business owners, are not clear on what the government is asking them to do

Exeter Chamber calls for immediate financial support for businesses following the Plan B announcement by the government. The urgent request follows a recent poll where businesses across the city express their concern of the negative impact on their business during the crucial festive trading period. 

The poll revealed that 46% of businesses surveyed expressed an opinion that the new measures would impact their business negatively, with three quarters (77%) of respondents concerned about increased restrictions on their business in January 2022. 

This week, Rishi Sunak issued a stark warning to Department of Health officials over the multibillion-pound cost of regular booster rollouts, however, there has been no mention of financial support for the business community. 

Clodagh Murphy chair of Exeter Chamber comments: “The government must act now to avoid further business closures; we have already been made aware of many cancellations of Christmas parties and celebrations amongst our hospitality industry at what is a crucial time of year for them in recouping lost revenue of the past 18 months. The messaging from the government is unclear – work from home where you can but continue your festive celebrations. A confusing request for many. What the business community needs is absolute clarity and consistency of messaging as well as a financial package to enable a safe and stable economy.” 

The hospitality sector has seen a ripple of effect of cancellations in recent weeks, with concerns of the Omicron variant spreading more easily amongst the unvaccinated and those who have yet to receive their booster. 

Jemma Mitchell owner for Rendezvous Wine Bar said: “Our 60-cover wine bar and restaurant, has had bookings through December for Christmas groups and we have seen literally 200 covers cancel which is a phenomenal proportion, and this doesn’t include the normal small table bookings, which are equally chopping and changing with every phone call and email. It’s a real roller-coaster ride and quite exhausting to plan, order and prep for, especially for the kitchen who are working flat out and prepping food, only to find a group cancels or halves in numbers for a booking in the following day or two. The staff are also being hugely affected as they are having shifts cancelled when groups drop as we won’t need so many people to work when it’s not going to as busy as predicted, so they are losing out on wages, and tips as a result.” 

The poll also shows that 47% of business owners are unclear of what the government is asking them to do. In light of these responses, the Chamber is not only calling for clarity of messaging, but in the event that the Omicron variant forces the government into closing parts of the economy that a mini furlough scheme is put into place and financial support for business owners is actioned immediately.