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Business groups in 'don't lock us down again' plea

Belfast Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Hamilton is among the signatories to a letter to the Executive
Gary McDonald Business Editor

EIGHT business organisations from across the north have united to implore the Executive to resist ordering another lockdown amid fears that, without the same degree of financial support provided first time around, it could decimate the economy, resulting in business closures and job losses.

The Chambers of Commerce in Belfast, Causeway, Derry and Newry have joined Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing NI, the NI Retail Consortium and Retail NI in signing a letter to the First and Deputy First Ministers.

In a joint statement they said: “We're all well aware of the huge challenge before the Executive as it continues to respond to the pandemic. But equally it has been a really tough time for businesses in many sectors of our economy, with both employers and employees facing into an uncertain future.

“Throughout the crisis, businesses have stepped forward and played their part. We understand how ministers may have to introduce additional measures to help in the fight against the virus, but they must carefully consider the impact each of their actions have on businesses, we especially implore them to resist placing our economy in any type of lockdown again.”

The statement added: “It's clear the Executive does not have the financial fire power to offer the kind of levels of support previously available to businesses during the last lockdown.

“And our fear is that a lockdown without sufficient support for businesses will result in closures and a considerable number of job losses, and that devastating economic impact is something we urge ministers to have at the forefront of their minds.”

The groups have urged the Executive to work with them to find solutions to ensure jobs are retained and businesses are kept open and “we have an economy that is strong and capable of growing again”.

The letter's signatories include Simon Hamilton, Glyn Roberts, Stephen Kelly, Aodhán Connolly and Colin Neill.

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