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By Chris Cooke | Posted on Friday, December 17, 2021
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak insisted the government would support businesses negatively affected by the latest wave of COVID-19 cases, although he provided few details, and insisted that the current priority is to get as many people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as possible.
Sunak, who was in California this week, has come under increased pressure to provide new financial support for hospitality and live entertainment businesses as the omicron variant of COVID-19 quickly spreads across the UK.
Although Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson has insisted he will not cause another lockdown in England, at the same time, statements released by ministers and officials are increasingly encouraging people to stay at home. them to limit the spread of the virus.
This – claim representatives of hotel and nightlife companies – has created a near or pseudo lockdown. Technically, clubs, venues, bars and restaurants can open, but their customers are told to stay at home.
Sunak’s absence from recent official COVID briefings was notable, as a growing number of industries began to seek new financial support for affected companies, be it grants, loans or other relief. fiscal. In response, the Chancellor said yesterday that he and his team were in talks with representatives from the affected sectors.
âThis government has done everything in its power every step of the way to support lives and livelihoods throughout this pandemic – and of course we will continue to do so,â he said. “My team and I met with business representatives earlier today, listened to their concerns and will continue to work with industry leaders over the next few days.”
However, in the absence of any specific support program, he ended his statement by referring to the need for everyone to be fully vaccinated against COVID, including receiving this third booster. “To continue to protect our economic recovery and the lives and livelihoods of the British people,” he added, “our priority now is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to grow stronger”.
As Johnson continues to resist formal lockdowns in England, COVID rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are, of course, set nationally. And Wales have announced new restrictions which include the complete closure of clubs from December 27, just before the start of the all-important New Years festivities.
In response to this development, the Night Time Industries Association has announced that it is considering legal action against the Welsh government.
NTIA CEO Michael Kill said last night: ‘We are stunned by the actions of the Welsh government tonight, the constant targeting of the nightclub sector and the late night economy has gone too far. It is very clear that the Welsh government has deliberately imposed restrictions on an industry without any supporting evidence â.
“Nightclubs and the late night economy have been at the forefront of the pandemic and have maintained the public health strategy in Wales for more than two years, with closures and growing debt,” a- he added. âWe have been placed in an untenable position and we will now have no choice but to get out of the fight. The sector will study its legal options following this announcement â.