More businesses face “insurmountable pressure” after a further 50,000 were forced to shut due to the extension of local lockdowns in England, it has been warned.

Moving more areas into the toughest Tier 4 restrictions from Boxing Day to combat a fast-spreading mutant coronavirus strain will take the total number of non-essential shops, hairdressers and gyms closed across the country to around 220,000, data shows.

The figures from real estate adviser Altus Group, came as business and union leaders expressed concern at the widening crackdown and demanded increased support to prevent firms going bust and jobs being lost.

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Hancock outlines changes to tier system

Retail and hospitality chiefs have urged ministers to extend a business rates holiday beyond April next year and to speed up the rollout of the COVID-19 jab.

Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said: “The rapid rise in infections is alarming so it’s only right the government is taking measures to bring the number of cases down to protect public health.

“However, with more areas moving into higher tiers even more businesses face insurmountable pressure after such a tough year.

“While some retailers and entertainment venues have already taken precautionary measures by deciding to close, many others will lose out from one of the busiest periods of the year which brings in billions of pounds.”

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TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “These restrictions are necessary. But they are another hammer blow for struggling parts of the economy like hospitality and retail.

“Without more support from the government, jobs will be lost and businesses will close.

“Ministers must act quickly and provide the financial help hard-hit industries badly need.

“They can’t watch from the side lines as companies go the wall and redundancies mount.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “It is clear that it is going to be the longest winter in living memory for Britain’s pubs and brewers.

“Unless there is a greater package of financial support from the government to secure our pubs and the brewers that supply them, a wave of business failures in the new year is inevitable.”

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These urgent restrictive actions require equally urgent accompanying financial supports for businesses, many more of which have been flung closer to commercial failure.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said: “The light at the end of the tunnel seems further than ever and many retailers – who are losing billions in sales with each passing week – will struggle under the new wave of closures.

“The biggest Christmas gift the government could give us all is to put even more momentum behind the vaccination programme and more widespread testing.

“The government is keen to keep people at home as this process is rolled out and the faster the population is vaccinated, the better the outlook for businesses across the country.”


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