Lockdown 3 – Retail NI, Belfast Chamber and NFRN express dismay and disappointment

Lockdown 3 – Retail NI, Belfast Chamber and NFRN express dismay and disappointment

Lockdown 3 has caused both dismay and deep concern for independent retailers and businesses across Northern Ireland. Retail NI and Belfast Chamber have both issued strong statements in response.

Profoundly disappointing

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said“It is profoundly disappointing that the Executive has had to take this course of action because of non-compliance of individuals and households with the Covid-19 regulations. This non-compliance has not only driven up transmission of the virus, but has now effectively shut down our economy”

“Make no mistake – this third lockdown will result in a tsunami of independent retailers falling and thousands more jobs being lost with permanent damage done to our local high streets”

“Independent retailers selling clothes, books and toys will be forced to close their doors without even a click and collect option, while large supermarkets will remain open selling those same products. Where is the fairness in this?”

“It is also extremely concerning that many businesses are still awaiting financial support payments from the last lockdown. The Executive must work night and day to ensure that payments are made without delay to impacted independent retailers and small businesses.”

Severe pressure

Commenting on the NI Executive’s decision to introduce a six week lockdown from Boxing Day, Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said, “We have all seen how COVID-19 levels in NI are still stubbornly high and how our NHS is under severe pressure and appreciate the need for action. However, it is also worth noting that cases remained high whilst many retailers and hospitality businesses were closed.  Knowing that closing many businesses did not impact on infection rates as hoped for previously, the Executive have once again decided to use more or less the same tactic. Do they expect a different result this time?

 Circuit breaker

When the NI Executive introduced its first so-called circuit breaker back in October, the First Minister stated that “we cannot keep closing the country down” and “that strategy, designed to buy time, is in reality a failure”.  The First Minister also stated that “every part of our society must adapt and learn to live with the virus” and the deputy First Minister said that the first circuit breaker would give time to “strategically examine how we can move away from a cycle of lockdowns”. Earlier in October, the Health Minister commented that repeated lockdowns were “not feasible”. Yet here we are again, going round and round and round in a cycle of lockdowns.

That the region is now entering another, even more severe period of restrictions is, by the First Minister’s definition, a massive failure and a reflection of the Executive’s inability to chart a different course with businesses and jobs the collateral damage.  What actions are the Executive proposing to take over the next six weeks to stave off future lockdowns on the basis that Ministers have themselves admitted that continuing down this path is a failure?  And yet again, too many businesses are still waiting for financial support that they were promised when previously placed into lockdown and now those businesses and others need urgent support to survive and save jobs”.

Lockdown is ‘disappointing but necessary’ says Northern Ireland independent retail president

The Northern Ireland president of the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) says the latest Covid lockdown is disappointing but necessary if the spread of the virus is to be halted.

Judith Mercer, who owns Hamilton News in Cregagh Road, Belfast, said: “It’s going to be crippling for the economy, but at the same time we need measures put in place to stop the spread of this virus.

“We need people to understand that they must wear a mask when they are shopping in local stores, to protect themselves and shop staff. The local newsagent’s or convenience store seems to be a place where some people think they can just nip in and out, so they don’t need to wear a mask, which is very unfair on the staff.

“We all want to get back to normality as soon as possible, so if it takes a lockdown to help that then that’s what we have to have and everybody needs to stick to the rules.”