Allan Shine, Chamber Chief Executive said “ We are extremely concerned that the actions which cabinet decided upon yesterday are half-measures which are unlikely to have the effect that government is hoping for. Our concern is that further measures will be needed in another few weeks. Businesses are paying the price for a continued lack of action among the unvaccinated, and as a result of a reduction in effective public health measures, such as masking, in the vaccinated population.
Our members are saying that there is a growing lack of confidence regarding the government’s pandemic planning and we are potentially expecting a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown pre-Christmas.
With almost 200,000 PCR tests being conducted on weekly basis, Covid-19 testing is becoming harder to access. Government needs to take immediate action on making antigen tests more obtainable.
The Covid-19 vaccine pass must be mandated across all non-essential businesses that operate in enclosed locations. Further, legislation needs to be brought forward to allow employers to require that their employees have a vaccinated status, where unvaccinated employees could pose a risk to others. Businesses need to ensure that the mask mandate is strictly enforced across all enclosed spaces, and government needs to take action to ensure that businesses are enabled to do so.
The Finance Bill needs to be amended to ensure that ministers will have the flexibility needed to ensure that state supports are not being withdrawn while lockdowns and other economic restrictions are simultaneously being reintroduced.
With the increasing likelihood of further measures being needed, government need to recognise that businesses that have their activities restricted will require immediate supports, including wage subsidies, commercial rates waivers, and the reintroduction of restart grants for businesses where their operations are curtailed entirely”.