Will Tier Two take its toll on Essex businesses?

Our photo shows Julie London’s ‘Paint & Paper Emporium’ in Upminster, Essex.

ESSEX will be plunged into Tier Two of Coronavirus restrictions, from tomorrow, Saturday (October 17). It will join with other areas of England including London and York. In addition to the current order of a 10pm closure for pubs and restaurants, the county’s residents will be prohibited from mixing with other households indoors and must continue to follow the rule of six, outside. This came as a result of a request from Essex County Council and a confirmation by Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, meaning over half of the country’s population will be living under its ‘High’ or Tier Three’s ‘Very High’ restrictions.

The infection rate in Essex is, surprisingly, one of the lowest in the country, with Braintree’s figure at 45.2 compared to Portsmouth’s 94, currently in Tier One. Thurrock and Southend are unitary authorities and will be exempt from the restrictions despite their location within the county.

Owner of Upminster’s ‘Paint & Paper Emporium’, Julie London, isn’t worried about the prospect of shifting to Tier Three in the future. She traded well through the initial lockdown by adapting to take orders by email and phone, offering a delivery service.

“The business is Covid secure, so it shouldn’t be too much of an extra burden. My clients tend to come from the same household, or alone,” she said.

Julie’s concerns, however, lay with increased redundancies; making the point that although people are spending additional time at home and therefore want to make it more comfortable, the number of those re-locating has decreased across 2020, halting planned interior projects.

“It’s also a bit of a challenge as I don’t have a transactional website and costs of setting up one are very high. I could lose out to online traders, who don’t have the same service as an independent retailer.”

Commenting on the announcement, Denise Rossiter, Essex Chambers of Commerce Chief Executive, told the Harlow Harrier: “Government financial support has been helpful but cannot continue indefinitely and these new measures may be the final straw for some businesses who have to cease trading or make staff redundant and we should not be surprised to see unemployment rise in the county.

We are concerned that local politicians have had to request that Essex is moved from the ‘Medium’ Covid level to the ‘High’ level. Businesses in the county have worked hard to protect their staff, customers and the wider public by adopting suitable protective measures with training for employees to help fight the spread of this virus. They will never knowingly put people at risk,” she added.

If the county eventually moved into the Tier Three ‘Very High’ level, along with the current regulations coming into practice on Saturday, we would be expected to abstain from mixing with other households in private gardens and hospitality venues, indoors and outdoors. Pubs and bars that don’t serve food would be closed, as well as guidance given against travelling in and out of the area.

Our photo shows Julie Londons Paint & Paper Emporiumin Upminster, Essex.

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Callum Wells

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