Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
The Whys and The Where Fores.
With Boris announcing that a lockdown, maybe not be off the table, as regards the omicron virus, businesses are rightly concerned. So what is the state of the play with financial help for businesses or their employees? Well, Sunak rushed back from the US, to speak to business leaders. Sunak said, he had spoken to the business sector but seemed to be offering new, right now. He said there were financial measures in place that could be obtained from local authorities to keep local businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, afloat.
Businesses especially, small businesses struggling to keep going and retain staff, are not happy. There have been massive cancellations of Christmas gatherings, because of the omicron threat. This will and is having, a terrible effect on these businesses, especially, pubs, restaurants, and cafes.
The jury on Omicron itself is out. Some say this new variant that originated in South Africa, makes you ill but the symptoms are mild. Certainly, in South Africa, no one appears to have died from the virus. And that is in a country, where many are still unvaccinated. On GB News recently, the scientist who discovered the strain said the UK might be overreacting, unless, the form of omicron in the UK is different from the South African one, (as the scientist said). Omicron infections though appear to be rising, (if the government figures can be trusted). Omicron seems more infectious than the Delta variant and appears to be becoming the dominant strain in the UK. Hospital admittances remain low and deaths also remain low. When the figures for COVID are presented on the media, it is never said what variant of COVID killed them, Delta or Omicron or both. As discussed, omicron has as far as we know, not killed anyone. So, presumably, the killer is still Delta. But many of the victims of COVID, have also died of other reasons too.
Many Premiership games have been canceled because of COVID. Meanwhile, after a meeting of all teams in the Premiership, teams have agreed to carry on playing.
Nandos, Green King Brewery, etc, all spoke to Sunak and his team. These are just some of the big chains that spoke to the Chancellor. If there is no more forthcoming help from the Treasury if things get serious, bigger companies, (like those named), will be able in the main to survive. But as mentioned earlier, it will be the small businesses who will find it hard. Children's parties are also a big part of hospitality and they bring in much income. But like adult parties and gatherings, children's parties are also being canceled which will see a further loss of income for the hospitality sector.
Offices right now remain empty, but at least, by and large, those that work in those sectors can mostly work from home. However, it is those that work in manual sectors such as factories, hospitality, etc, that cannot do this. Commuting has dropped because of the omicron virus. For example, travel into London has dropped by a third. Obviously, this situation will be replicated with other cities like Birmingham, Manchester, etc.
The government is urging all concerned to get their booster, which gives, 70% protection. Some say Boris is just creating a fuss over omicron, as a distraction from the controversial parties, held at 10 Downing Street last year, (when the government told us all to lockdown and not mix with family or friends). On the other hand, Boris may have acted so he is not accused of being slow, in realizing the potential danger of omicron. Only the Prime Minister himself knows why he has implemented yet again, the wearing of masks, in public spaces. As said earlier, Boris is not implementing a full lockdown for now, but a two-week circuit breaker will happen. Lockdowns and circuit breakers may stem the tide of the virus, but it is still there when such things end.
Finally, if lockdown is implemented at some point, then a form of furlough must be reinstated. If not, there will be mass unemployment if businesses cannot afford to keep staff on. And for a government that says 'Works Pays', surely Boris would not want mass employment on his hands, as well as all the other woes facing him.
Update: Wishy-Washy has announced a billion Pound bail out for businesses.