Commenting on the First Minister’s announcement on coronavirus measures in Wales Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said:
“Today’s announcements by the UK and Welsh Government clearly underline the deep concern about the re-emergence of Covid-19 within our communities. This is a concern that has already been brought starkly home to residents and businesses in a number of counties across South Wales now subject to local lockdown measures.
“We recognise that these measures have been brought in to try to mitigate that re-emergence of the Virus but undoubtedly, these measures will have an economic impact which could suggest that for many businesses, which were just starting to get back on their feet, recovery may yet be some way off. We recognise however, that both the UK and Welsh Governments have sought a balance between measures to control the virus and protecting the economy.
“The sector most obviously hit by these measures are pubs and hospitality businesses. Curtailed trading hours will undoubtedly impact the smallest businesses most – businesses which have done their very best to navigate through and implement the safety measures we’ve asked them to put in place. These are businesses already working to very tight margins and many will be concerned about their onward viability.
“While we recognise the First Minister’s plea for people to consider not making ‘unnecessary journeys’ this is likely to cause confusion among individuals. For those businesses on our high streets, which depend on casual spend by customers, they will be concerned at the potential that these customers may be discouraged from visiting the high street, at a time when many would have been expecting Christmas business to start picking up.
“What is clear from these announcements is new, and significant support will yet be required by businesses from Welsh and UK Governments. With the furlough scheme coming to an end in just 6 weeks, it is clear that some sectors might need continued support to retain roles. For others, across sectors such as hospitality and retail, it is likely that support will be required to ensure their viability and that they can continue to help reinforce our local economies.
“These are challenging times and all our political leaders are faced with unenviable decisions. However, the strength of our SME community will be one of the most significant available assets to help build economic recovery and we can’t lose sight of the need to support our smaller businesses to provide jobs, wealth and contribute so much to our communities.”