BUSINESS leaders in Dorset have reacted to the Government’s new three-tier coronavirus system with a mixture of relief and pessimism - with one senior figure calling it a ‘blow for confidence at a delicate time for the economy.’

The new traffic light system places local authority areas in England into ‘medium’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’ alerts with varying restrictions and measures in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Dorset Council area has been placed in Tier 1 category - the lowest - which means 10pm curfew for bars, pubs, restaurants, and gatherings of more than six people banned apart from some settings such as funerals and weddings remain in place. 

Dorset Chamber chief executive, Ian Girling, described the system as a “blow for confidence at a delicate time for the economy.”

Mr Girling said: “Anger among businesses is understandable, particularly in the north of the country and in the hospitality, leisure and events sectors in Dorset who are already finding it very difficult. Clearly it is incredibly disappointing to see the escalation of infection rates and the introduction of intensified restrictions.

“Many businesses will have serious misgivings about the new localised lockdown system and the economic disruption it will cause but will accept some measures are required.”

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Weymouth town centre has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic Weymouth town centre has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic

Dorset Chamber says the Government must understand the real-world consequences for livelihoods and communities as well as the long-term health of the economy. Although Dorset has not been hit by the recent increase of coronavirus cases, Mr Girling added there are hotspots in parts of the county.

Mr Girling said: “We do not want to see these worsen and the county become at risk of tighter restrictions.

“The Chamber will continue to liaise with local authorities and economic partners in Dorset while working with colleagues at the British Chambers of Commerce to fight the corner of business at Westminster.

“Support remains available for all businesses through the Chamber. I have great confidence in Dorset’s many great businesses who will continue to show their customary resilience, positivity and support for one another to ensure the economy keeps moving and the county stays open for business.”

Claudia Webb, chief operations officer of Weymouth BID, noted the town has been “lucky” amid the growing Covid-19 cases nationally. She was also pleased the area was at Tier 1 with no further restrictions or changes to be made. 

Praising how the area’s businesses have responded to changing restrictions of the pandemic, she said: “Weymouth has been lucky so far with regard to Covid-19 numbers and the fact that we are in Tier 1 will be a relief to local businesses.

“All the businesses have been adapting quickly and efficiently to the new guidelines and both locals and visitors should feel safe to visit our town.”