Liverpool Waterfront

Businesses urged to lead lockdown counter-attack to curb Covid rise

Businesses in Liverpool are being asked to redouble their efforts to help the city’s fight against Covid-19.

Several business associations, including Liverpool’s Chamber of Commerce, have issued a joint letter calling on businesses to go “all in” to arrest the spread of the virus.

The unprecedented plea, which has been sent to more than 15,000 firms this morning, is asking companies to follow a five point plan of action to protect both their workforce and customers during the third lockdown.

The plan includes:

  • Adopt working from home in all instances where it is feasible to do so
  • Adapt working practices to review and further strengthen COVID-resistant measures and minimise interaction
  • Support employees who need to assume care responsibilities
  • The wearing of 3-ply masks and encourage regular testing of staff
  • Access all available support options and schemes to sustain businesses ahead of a gradual and ultimately wider reopening of the economy

Liverpool’s Covid rates have seen a five-fold increase in the past two weeks, with infection levels now around 1,000 per 100,000 people. The city had been in Tier 2 throughout December, but with social mixing and a new virulent strain which is almost twice as infectious has seen the virus spiral out of control.

In response the leaders of the Chamber, Professional Liverpool, Liverpool BID Company, Marketing Liverpool, Liverpool Hospitality Association and Downtown in Liverpool are now urging their members to combat the Coronavirus in a bid to ensure the city’s economy can recover as quickly as possible.

With the vaccines still at least two months away from inoculating the most vulnerable, the letters says the city has entered the darkest period in the fight to curb the pandemic and that the business community can lead the counter-attack.

The open letter ends by asking businesses to adopt and embrace the simple mantra – ‘Stay home; protect the NHS; save lives’ to help Liverpool through to its recovery.

Acting Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Wendy Simon has welcomed the intervention.

Wendy said: “Our business community is hurting and thousands of companies are quite literally hanging on by their fingernails. This lockdown will be here with us for some weeks to come and we know everyone is fed up, especially those who have been furloughed and those who fear they may have no job to go back to.

“And yet, many businesses are still in operation and given the speed this new strain of the virus is spreading we need a huge individual and collective effort to help reign it in and bring it back under control.

“I welcome this letter and am confident our business community and our major employers will respond in kind by reviewing and strengthening their existing policies, as the city council has had to. There is light at the end of the tunnel with the new vaccines but if we want our economy to recover quickly we must be vigilant – and that means reducing interaction as much as possible over the coming weeks.

“This will not be easy but the long term benefits for our economy and NHS are clear to see.”

The open letter in full, reads:

On behalf of Liverpool’s business community we are determined and focused on enabling the city to recover quickly and successfully from the economic exhaustion of Covid-19.

We entered 2021 with hope and optimism that the vaccination programme would lead to a recovery and a potential return to normality within the early months of the year.

However, the exponential rise of Covid-19 – fuelled by a strain that is almost twice as infectious – and the necessary national lockdown to protect our most vulnerable has tempered that hope.

Businesses of all sizes, in all sectors are struggling as are many of our public sector organisations and practitioners in health, education and our emergency services.

This third lockdown – at the darkest and coldest time of the year – has also compounded on the physical and mental health of our citizens including those who operate, own or work in businesses and organisations.

Therefore, today, we are collectively asking for businesses and their employees to re-double their commitment to making this lockdown – as dismal and damaging as it is – the moment when we make a committed stand against this virus and beat it back sufficiently to enable the vaccine programme to succeed.

The vaccination programme remains the light at the end of the tunnel. A promise that gives everyone within our society the expectation of a better, more prosperous future. But we must all play a part in achieving this outcome.

We must now go ‘all in’ to protect businesses for the longer term and ensure we have a foundation of businesses and talent upon which we can build a prosperous economic future.

The Government has issued guidance to stay at home wherever and whenever is possible. By following these rules we reduce the rates of transmission and hasten the day for our re-emergence from these restrictions.

Despite our wish to have business as usual, we agree that businesses should undertake these five actions:

  • Adopt working from home in all instances where it is feasible to do so.
  • Adapt working practices to review and further strengthen COVID-resistant measures and minimise interaction between people in offices, on building sites and in other work settings.
  • Support employees who need to assume care responsibilities – whether for elderly relatives or for young people – with a spirit of trust, support and understanding.
  • Where business continues on site, particularly in areas where larger numbers of the general public may interact with employees and each other, reassert and enforce strong management of Covid-safe conditions within those workspaces including the wearing of 3-ply masks and encourage regular testing of staff.
  • Access all available support options including flexible furlough, local and national financial support schemes to sustain businesses and their people ahead of a gradual and ultimately wider reopening of the economy.

Throughout the pandemic, we have consistently advocated for a safe reopening of business in Liverpool. Our successful work in reopening the city centre after the first lockdown and the subsequent efforts in November to embrace mass testing and achieve our ‘Tier 2’ status amidst local lockdown conditions in December is testament to our commitment to achieve an open economy that protects lives and livelihoods.

The development of the new COVID strain has reasserted the virus stranglehold. For the coming period, business as usual will not be possible.

We must collectively counter-attack using the tools at our disposal. The damage wrought by Covid-19 to our businesses is substantial. Yet we can and will overcome this virus by individually and collectively playing our part, ensuring we can rebuild when the time comes to do so.

‘Stay home; protect the NHS; save lives’ was the slogan of 2020. As businesses, let us each make this our mission statement in 2021 to see Liverpool through to its recovery.

An open letter to businesses on behalf of the undersigned:

Bill Addy, CEO, Liverpool BID Company

Paul Askew and Marcus Magee, Co-Chairs, Liverpool Hospitality Association

Chris Brown, Director, Marketing Liverpool

Paul Cherpeau, CEO, Liverpool Chamber

Frank McKenna, CEO, Downtown in Business

Andrew Ruffler, CEO, Professional Liverpool

Liverpool Waterfront