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Is a national ‘circuit breaker’ the answer?

With discussions taking place over whether there should be a short, sharp national lockdown, dubbed ‘a circuit breaker’ Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre asks if it is a wise move or not?

To break or not to break?

From a business perspective, any forced mass closure of shops would be devastating for independent retail.

We are in autumn; a very important time for retail as we approach the festive period. Closing shops, even for a short while, will simply result in driving people online and into the hands of Amazon and the other large internet businesses.

We already know that Christmas shopping is starting early and closure of the high street now will take away any opportunity from the retailers to recover what they have already lost this year.

A guide to preparing for Christmas in post-Covid retail shop window at Christmas

The run up to Christmas is an essential time for retail and a circuit breaker could prove devastating, according to Bira.

We have just seen the introduction of the three-tier system and any deviation from that, so soon after implementation, will simply add to the confusion.

We understand the need to protect lives and that is why we need certainty and clear communications to the general public and businesses – supported by enforcement and an efficient track and trace system.

The communications are muddled by politicians trying to score points and a media challenging every decision. One day senior politicians are questioning the need for a 10pm curfew, the next those same MPs are advocating a national lockdown.

The Government and scientists can only do so much to halt this virus. People hold the key and they must follow the guidelines – but with so many people in a position of influence arguing about right and wrong, it is easy to understand why the public are finding it hard to know what to do for the best.

We do not need a circuit break. We do need authorities to work together, presenting a common plan that can be communicated. We need the public and businesses to do what they did so well back in March and April – taking care by washing hands, keeping space and covering the face. These basic disciplines have been overlooked by the public because of a lack of leadership from all political parties, both nationally and locally.

Shopping is safe – all the evidence tells us it is. In retail we need to show leadership by making sure that the safety protocols are in place, clearly communicated and enforced.

The future is in our hands, or should that be our sanitised hands.

Additional Guidance and Resources

Three-tier Covid alert level announced

New tighter restrictions in Northern Ireland

Tighter restrictions introduced in Scotland

Local lockdowns: New areas added, new restrictions

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