Chambers Wales are calling for a four-nation approach to the lifting of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of businesses after the UK Government, Northern Ireland and Scotland released full roadmaps for the reopening of their economies.
Many businesses have experienced economic difficulties due to the uncertainty of ongoing lockdown measures. These differing policies of reopening could cause confusion and potentially less compliance of adhering to the rules.
Businesses now accept that any indications of timings will be subject to certain factors in respect of infections rates and the capacity within the NHS, but opening a business is not just about turning the lights on. Many employers will need to secure supply chains, potentially import goods and may have to recruit staff both at home and overseas.
It is particularly hard for businesses in border counties who are quite often a street away from different regulations, as their neighbours reopen and trade whilst they remain shut and financially vulnerable.
Louise Smith is Managing Partner at The Secret Walled Garden and Monmouth Botanicals, which is located 1.7 miles away from the Wales-England border. The boutique venue in Monmouth offers accommodation, events and workshop space, and is a Chamber Member.
Louise has explained how hard it is being a business on the border when there are differing rules in Wales and England. She was in the same position twice in Summer 2020 and does not want to be again.
She said: “We had people trying to come to stay in Wales when England was in lockdown but Wales wasn’t, and last summer the disparity in regulations regarding mask wearing meant that we had different guests following different rules.
“We have to trust our customers and trust that the information they are providing us with when they make a booking is true. Realistically, businesses cannot be expected to police the general public when they’re also trying to survive financially.
“We’ve been taking bookings for April 2021 onwards and very much hope that we can honour them.”
Louise, along with many other business owners, is calling for the government to have a national approach to coming out of lockdown, and hopes that they will promote staycations and local tourism over travelling abroad in order to boost the economy.
Chambers Wales firmly ask the four-nations to provide a clear and collaborative road map to reopening, so that businesses might now begin to look forward, plan with contingencies and aim to rebuild.