Jo James, chief executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce warns of "devastating" impact of second lockdown

The second national lockdown will be "devastating" to many of the county's firms, a leading business figure has warned.

Jo James, chief executive of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, which represents firms across the county, warned it could have a hugely damaging impact on key sectors.

The lockdown comes into force on Thursday and is scheduled to be lifted on December 2.

She explained: "The news of another lockdown will be devastating for so many businesses across the county, but particularly those that are linked to the travel, leisure, tourism and retail sectors.

"So many in this sector have already missed out on Easter and summer trade and were very reliant on strong Christmas sales, which we know start in November, and with November being written off for them, it doesn’t bode well.

"Yet again, it is another announcement without the full support available clearly laid out, giving businesses further uncertainty."

All non-essential shops and hospitality establishments will once again have to shut up shop for the four-week lockdown.

Boris Johnson confirmed the lockdown on Saturday night. Picture: @10DowningStreet/PA
Boris Johnson confirmed the lockdown on Saturday night. Picture: @10DowningStreet/PA

She added: "We cannot afford to dip in and out of lockdowns going forward, so the government needs to take this time to ensure that we have an effective track and trace system in place and the capacity to ensure tests are analysed with speed.

"On a positive note, businesses will feel relief that the furlough scheme is set to continue for the coming month and for those that have closed there will be some grant funding available, but government does need to come up with further support for business to enable them to stay afloat. We know there are many businesses in the supply chain that will be impacted, and support needs to extend out to them."

And she warned there are more concerns ahead, with the full impact of Brexit being felt in January.

She said: "Brexit is taking a back seat, which it cannot afford to do. The government is pushing businesses to prepare but how can they if they are locked down again for another month?

"It was hard enough before, but now it may well be impossible, yet the government tells us to get ready, yet they still have not clarified the rules or done a deal.

"Business thrives on confidence and there is certainly not a lot of that around now."

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