Responding to the latest statement from the First Minister following the Welsh Government’s Coronavirus review, Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair stated:
We fully recognise the challenges posed by the current situation and concerns about the future spread of Omicron as outlined today by the First Minister in the press conference. However, the measures announced today undoubtedly pose a significant challenge for businesses throughout the economy, most particularly in hospitality – a sector most feeling the pressures of this latest public health crisis and facing the greatest uncertainty.
While we welcome the fact that many businesses will be able to continue to trade, from previous experience, we know that the return of the ‘rule of six’ and social distancing as well as table service in licensed premises will place a limitation on the capacity of these businesses and added to the reduced trade in the run-up to Christmas, this will cause concern for many.
However, we are pleased to see the announcement by the First Minister of a doubling of the support available to businesses affected by these measures, which alongside measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday and campaigned for by FSB, will provide some relief.
It is essential now that the Minister for Economy sets out the details of this new package, ensuring that it takes into account the pre-Christmas pressures, is available to supply chain businesses and is delivered as soon as possible and as easily as possible to ensure that businesses are supported soon. We look forward to that detail tomorrow, as promised by the First Minister. We maintain that this, and any future funding needs to be commensurate with the impact of public health interventions on consumer behaviour and the scale of restrictions placed upon businesses.
As ever, with any new or amended measures, it is essential that Welsh Government delivers timely and clear guidance to businesses urgently. The timescale for businesses to adapt to these measures is exceedingly right – particularly with the Christmas break in the way - and Ministers and agencies need to show forbearance and understanding towards businesses while they work hard to adapt to the changes during what is a very busy period for many.
We urge the Welsh public to support our smaller businesses at this time as well as show understanding to business owners and staff who will continue to do all required of them in difficult circumstances to keep their customers, and their communities safe.