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Newry Chamber Responds to NI Executive Lockdown Announcement

Responding to the NI Executive’s decision to introduce a six-week lockdown, the Chief Executive Officer for Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade, Colm Shannon said:

“The NI Executive’s decision is devastating news for the many retailers, hospitality businesses and their suppliers who have been struggling to survive. Many businesses were focused on surviving to the end of the year.  Now there will be real questions over their future. Job losses will undoubtedly follow the decision to introduce a six-week lockdown.”

“If we are to protect businesses and avoid further redundancies, the NI Executive must immediately revisit the support packages for businesses and ensure it is delivered in a timelier way.”

“This must be the last lockdown and everyone needs to work hard on minimising unnecessary contacts. With hospitality and most retail closed, the focus is now on households abiding by the rules. The business community wants to see firm action against those flouting the rules.”

“Retailers and hospitality businesses have played their part by investing heavily in PPE. They have closed when asked to. We must see firm action taken against households who ignore the regulations, otherwise the lockdown will not work. Abiding by the rules will save lives and protect the jobs of local people.”

“As a business community, we have real concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of business owners and their employees. Many business owners will worry about whether they will have a business to open at the end of January and employees are concerned about whether they have jobs to return to. It is important that the issue of mental health and wellbeing is not overlooked in the coming weeks and support is provided to help businesses and their employees cope with the added pressures they face.”

“It is also important that the NI Executive uses this period of closure to put a clear plan in place for next year. Realistically, the business community is looking at the period post-Easter as a time when we hope we can begin to turn the corner. We need support packages in place to keep businesses going until then and a recovery plan for when life slowly begins to return to normal.”