Coronavirus Lockdown: An Open Letter to Cheshire and Warrington businesses

On behalf of the Cheshire and Warrington business community we are determined to help our region to recover quickly and successfully from the economic impact of
the pandemic.

We are incredibly grateful for the sacrifices made by NHS staff, frontline care workers, and the support of our public servants in education and emergency services. They have worked tirelessly over the last year to support us all.

We recognise and support the need for continued measures to limit the spread of the virus and significant efforts have already been made by employers and employees to create safe environments. However, the lockdown measures have had a devastating economic impact on many of our businesses and we must do all we can to get the economy moving again and help our region recover.

We are collectively asking for businesses and their employees to commit to making this third lockdown the moment when we beat back the virus to allow our
region’s economy to fully recover.

Please join us in reaffirming our commitment to these 5 objectives:
1. Adopt working from home in all instances where possible in line with Government guidance.
2. Review and further strengthen Coronavirus-secure measures and minimise interaction between people in offices, on building sites and in other work settings.
3. Support employees who need to assume care responsibilities – whether for elderly relatives or for young people – with a spirit of trust, support and understanding.
4. 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 Coronavirus-secure conditions within those workspaces including the wearing of 3-ply masks and encourage regular testing of staff. We must all maintain ‘hands, face and space.’
5. 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.

For businesses with less than 250 employees, local authorities are currently establishing a range of asymptomatic testing sites focusing testing on those
employees that are permitted to leave home for essential reasons. For businesses with more than 250 employees, NHS Test and Trace is working with employers to support delivery of asymptomatic testing, either through workplace testing or a number of other options, you can register by emailing p-and-psector@dhsc.gov.uk with the subject ‘Register interest for National Worker Programme’.

We will continue working with our local authority partners to provide grant funding to support businesses. The Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub, Chambers of Commerce and Federation of Small Business are available to offer advice to businesses on the support that is available locally. We are also continuing to work with Government to strengthen the support offer provided by national programmes, including the job support scheme and business loans.

Cheshire and Warrington has a strong and resilient economy and we look forward to working with all our businesses to build a better future together. We will continue to do all we can to provide short-term support.

Finally, we wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to our fantastic communities that have continued to support our local businesses throughout recent months. The pandemic has been particularly hard for the visitor, retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors. So please continue to shop locally online, make use of click and collect services, or sign up wherever possible to pay-it-forward schemes. This way, we can all do our bit to sustain the businesses that are so central to the character and vitality of our city, towns, and rural areas.

An open letter to businesses on behalf of the undersigned:
Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership
Federation of Small Business
Forum of Private Business
West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce
Warrington Chamber of Commerce
East Cheshire Chamber of Commerce
North Cheshire Chamber of Commerce
South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Chester Business Improvement District
Groundwork CLM working with Warrington town centre, Winsford Industrial Estate, Gadbrook Park, West Chester and Northwich town centre.