Commenting on the news that Greater Manchester has been placed in Tier 3, Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara, Head of Research at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: "Today, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed what people and businesses in Greater Manchester have been worrying over for the past few days: our city region will enter tough Tier 3 restrictions next week when the national lockdown ends. Parts of Great Manchester have had restrictions in place since the end of July. During the last five months, businesses have struggled to continue trading and some have been forced to lay off staff. Today's announcement will add an extra layer of anxiety for business owners, their staff and the public in general because these restrictions are being enforced at a time when the worst affected sectors, such as hospitality and leisure, would be looking forward to the critical festive trading season.
"The Chamber's seventh Recovery Tracker shows that previous tier 3 restrictions and the current national lockdown have significantly lowered demand levels and undermined business confidence. Customer demand, both domestic and international, are now at levels similar to those recorded in June 2020, a considerable worsening since September. There is also a lot of concern around rising unemployment with ONS data showing that the number of payroll employees has fallen by 782,000 across the UK since March.
"Many businesses fully recognise why this is being done and it’s vital that the virus is brought under control to preserve the wider health of the community and protect the NHS. However, the financial wellbeing of Greater Manchester's citizens is dependent on the support that is made available to businesses. The continuation of furlough until March 2021 and the grants offered to businesses that are forced to close will be welcomed by everyone but there is still no support for businesses in the supply chain. Reports have emerged that money made available in October to local authorities to provide discretionary grants would not now be topped up. If those reports are true, it would mean there is no distinction being made in targeting support for areas, irrespective of their business demography or indeed which tier of restrictions they are placed under.
"The government has also not published an exit strategy. Considering there isn't clarity about how long the restrictions will stay in place, it is incumbent on government to provide additional help to areas in tier 3. Otherwise, these restrictions will severely impact the hospitality and leisure sectors and those businesses which are in their supply chain. Eventually, that could lead to business failure, higher unemployment and push people into financial adversity."