England, Scotland move back into lockdown with immediate effect
England and Scotland both moved back into lockdown as of midnight on Monday night as the new strain of the coronavirus threatened to overwhelm the NHS.
With Wales and Northern Ireland in similar positions, it means non-essential stores are closed across the UK.
But the shock of the move is perhaps less than it was when lockdowns were first introduced in March 2020 with such stores already having been forced to close in large parts of the country.
Yet while retailers may be used to lockdown conditions by now, it doesn’t mean they’re any happier about them and the latest development could be one more step towards business failure for many whose finances were already hanging by a thread.
One notable feature of numerous recent results filings has been the section that deals with any company’s chances of continuing as a going concern. More than one firm has said that an extended lockdown into the New Year would undermine their survival prospects and at the very least could put their ability to stick to financing covenants at risk.
The British Retail Consortium said businesses UK-wide will lose around £2 billion of sales a week due to store closures and will need further financial support to get through the latest lockdown and the period after it.
The Scottish Retail Consortium had previously estimated that the closure of non-essential stores in Scotland specifically could see them facing around £135 million per week in lost revenue while shuttered. Its director David Lonsdale called for a plan from the government to help retailers.
The big question is how long will this lockdown last? A review has been promised for mid-February with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that the vaccination plan is that all people in the four most vulnerable groups should have had their first jab by that date. That would radically reduce the pressure on hospitals and would take the people most likely to die of Covid out of the danger zone.
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