Local businesses urged to double-down to make the third lockdown our last

Cheshire and Warrington Directors of Public Health collaborated with the Cheshire & Warrington LEP  to produce the following statement:

Businesses across Cheshire and Warrington are being called upon to continue to support the fight against COVID-19 and pave the way for economic recovery by redoubling safety measures where possible.

As the vaccination programme brings fresh hope of a day when everyday life can function normally, business networks across the region have joined forces alongside the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to reiterate how all businesses can continue to help to stop the spread the virus.

In an open letter to the region’s business community, the LEP, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and a number of local chambers of commerce are asking businesses and their employees across all sectors to pull together to help make the current lockdown “the moment when we beat back the virus sufficiently to enable our region’s economy to fully recover”.

The letter, which was sent today (Wednesday), outlines five objectives to help businesses ensure they are maintaining their commitment to lockdown rules and guidance.

These include:

  • Adopting working from home in all instances where possible;
  • Reviewing and strengthening COVID-secure measures and minimising interaction between people in offices;
  • Supporting employees with care responsibilities;
  • Where business must continue on site in specific sectors, enforce strong management of COVID-secure conditions, including 3-ply face covering and encourage regular testing of staff;
  • Accessing all available business options, including flexible furlough, local and national financial support schemes.

Businesses are also being urged to ensure that contact tracing is undertaken in the workplace when a colleague tests positive for the virus and follow self-isolation rules accordingly.

Phil McCabe, Merseyside and Cheshire Development Manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We are all incredibly grateful for the sacrifices made by our wonderful NHS staff and frontline workers across education, emergency services and those essential shops that are still open.

“Now is the time to ensure we are all maintaining our support in stopping the spread of the virus, which has been fuelled by a strain that is almost twice as infectious – we need to keeping pulling together and be ready to tackle our region’s economic recovery.”

It is hoped that the letter will further encourage businesses in sectors where on-site work is essential, such as manufacturing or logistics, to continue to monitor and constantly review their COVID-secure measures.

Clare Hayward, chair of the Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “Across the region, employers have worked extremely hard to adapt their ways of working so that we have COVID-safe environments and, where possible, staff can work effectively from home. Businesses across the region have sought to do the right thing whilst trying to keep their businesses functioning, and we really appreciate how hard that has been.

“In addition, our colleagues in public health are working hard to establish asymptomatic testing systems for businesses of all sizes to ensure that those who do have to work on-site remain as COVID-safe as possible.

“We are now asking for everyone in the business community to keep going and help make the third lockdown the very last. We want to recover and boost our region’s economy as quickly as we can and we are confident that local businesses will do everything in their power to help make this happen.”

Ian Ashworth, Director of Public Health for Cheshire West & Chester and speaking on behalf of the Cheshire & Warrington Directors of Public Health, said: “It is incredibly important that businesses continue to help drive down COVID-19 infection rates by adhering to the public health guidance.

“As well as ensuring employees can work safely with social distancing measures, face coverings and hand hygiene, businesses can also encourage employees who cannot work from home to access regular testing to identify positive cases in a workplace.

“Businesses can also help to reduce workplace outbreaks by proactively alerting close contacts of any employee that tests positive as soon as possible and ensure they all self-isolate.

“We know that this is a very difficult time for businesses but if we can double our efforts now we can look forward to moving out of lockdown. Directors would like to thank everyone for their commitment and support so far.”