West End business alliance responds to Tier 2 lockdown of London

Oxford Street
Oxford Street, October 2020

With London being plunged in to Tier 2 of the new three-tier ‘traffic light’ lockdown system, the Heart of London Business Alliance urged the government to do everything possible to avoid placing further restrictions on the Capital.

Prior to the government’s announcement that London will move to a higher alert level, amid the continued coronavirus crisis and a worrying spike in cases, Ros Morgan, Chief Executive of the Heart of London Business Alliance, said in a statement: “We know that the government must balance public health with the wider economic and mental health of the nation, but it should do everything possible to avoid placing further restrictions on central London.

“All lockdown measures need to be evidence based. Key sectors for the UK economy, such as hospitality, shouldn’t have to close without firm scientific evidence from the government that these venues are responsible for a marked increase in transmission and a rise in cases. Currently there is limited persuasive evidence.

“We’ve already seen with existing measures such as the 10pm curfew that, not only is the scientific evidence behind the curfew unclear, it has also created bottlenecks on public transport which is making social distancing more difficult and may incentivise gatherings in less safe environments such as private homes.”

Today’s statement from Morgan comes as Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, is threatening legal action should Manchester and Yorkshire be plunged into the strictest Tier 3 of the lockdown. The harshest local lockdown in the government’s three-tier system has so far only been applied to Liverpool.

The Heart of London Business Alliance represents 500 leading businesses and 100 top property owners in London’s West End, and Morgan believes that further measures on London would be “catastrophic” without further government support.

Morgan is advising the government to do all it can to keep public transport in central London up, running, and available for those who need it as it is “at the heart of London’s recovery.”

He also calls for a need to support London jobs, commenting: “The current job support scheme does not help businesses in central London. Support more aligned to the previous furlough scheme is needed.

“We have already seen major disruption in communities across the North who are in Tier 2 and 3 of the new tiered system of lockdown. If London, the capital city and economic powerhouse of the UK, is locked down it will be significantly worse.

Central London is a global economic hub that punches far above its geographic weight, generating 10% of the UK’s economic output, but Morgan fears a Tier 2 lockdown will be devastating as existing measures are already having a profound impact on businesses in central London.

Morgan added: “The new measures outlined in the government’s Tier 2 and 3 lockdown measures will have a catastrophic impact on many London businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package from the government for affected businesses.

“Further lockdown without further government support would be catastrophic. Implementing Tier 2 measures will ultimately have the same impact as Tier 3 which will drive businesses to closure.

“Locking down London will have significant economic implications across the UK.”