“I’m a bit over guessing what they will or won’t do”: Manchester businesses react to PM’s new Covid restrictions set to last until spring

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that England’s second national ‘lockdown’ will be lifted next week and replaced with a new, more-stringent tier system.

From next Wednesday people will be able to leave their homes and meet others in outdoor public spaces – subject to the rule of 6.

Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, subject to social distancing, across the whole of England.

Under the plan, non-essential shops in all areas will reopen, as will gyms, hairdressers and other businesses. 

But the PM warned: “We’re not going to replace national measures with a free for all, the status quo anti-Covid, we’re going to go back instead to a regional tiered approach – applying the toughest measures where Covid is most prevalent.” 

Mr Johnson, who is currently self-isolating after coming into contact with a Conservative MP who has tested positive for Covid-19, explained that each area will be placed into tiers with the level reviewed every fortnight.

The initial glimmer of hope slowly regressed into tier uncertainty – regions won’t know which tier they fall in until Thursday.

Unfortunately for Manchester in tiers 2 and 3, meetings will only be allowed outdoors, with no household mixing inside, and so we hope for good weather as there’s no confirmation if this will be lifted in time for Christmas. 

Liam Jackson, owner of the Deadstock General Store in the Northern Quarter, said: “Are we going back to a tier system? I’m a bit over guessing what they will or won’t do.”

Jackson opened his store that sells a collection of carefully curated gifts and vintage homeware in 2015. His business is suffering.

“We’re still trading online but we are doing a lot less than we did last year, and we were on track to do a lot more.” 

“We got the small business grant during the first lockdown, a taxable £10,000, it could have just been £8,000, but I guess it looks good for their numbers. This time we’ve been offered loans – we don’t want loans.”

 “The big businesses benefited from this in a big way, online retail is taking record numbers and everyone else is not doing well, that’s the reality,” he said.  

Across town, George Eid’s, mood was solemn. Eid, owner of Chorlton’s Zaytoon restaurant opened the Lebanese restaurant nine years ago.

Eid, originally from Beirut, Lebanon moved to the UK in 1986. His business, a family affair, is now on the brink of closure.

“It’s basically ruined us, we are struggling to pay our way and keep our business running. We’re not going out of lockdown. We’re going to be in tier 3, and not be able to open,” he said. 

Zaytoon has been closed for seven months, and has since been operating as a takeaway – that’s when the few orders come in.

“We’re not making enough money to pay our bills, the rent and all the outgoings. We’re on a flat line at the moment,” said Eid.

Greater Manchester will find out which tier it will be placed into on Thursday.

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