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Liverpool businesses want mask-wearing to stay after Freedom day

Businesses in Liverpool have spoken out ahead of the easing of England’s Covid restrictions saying they support mask-wearing being kept in place after 19 July.

Liverpool BID Company conducted a survey of over 120 businesses across Liverpool, the businesses were asked their views on the different restrictions being eased in what has been dubbed ‘Freedom day’. 

57% of respondents say they disagree with mask-wearing becoming a personal choice in enclosed spaces and on public transport. 33% agreed with the move while 9% were unsure. 74% say they think more restrictions will be brought back in after September, with just 15% think they do not. 48% say they agree with restrictions on social distancing and limits on group sizes being dropped, with 40% saying they disagree. 

Covering businesses in hospitality, professional services, retail, culture, education and more, the survey responses reveal some concerns within the city around the easing of restrictions. Answering on the basis of anonymity, one respondent highlighted the approach to isolation being “a real issue” for employers. Another cited uncertainty making it incredibly difficult to plan for the future. One business owner commented that “too many are either ignorant or irresponsible when it comes to wearing face masks when appropriate, so I believe it should be prescribed, not discretionary”.

Several commented on their concerns around high infection rates and said while they are pleased venues and businesses will be able to re-open, some continuing restrictions would make them feel more at ease. “​​No consideration is being given to the health and safety of the workforce on public transport and in shops or venues” said one. 

Bill Addy, CEO of Liverpool BID Company said the survey results reveal the real concerns businesses have over the easing of restrictions and the effective privitisation of covid protections:

“If you look at the guidance for this Step 4 easing of restrictions, the government is essentially pushing responsibility from the House of Commons to the boardrooms and the shop floors of this country. What we’re going to end up with is a piecemeal, confusing and haphazard approach that will leave people feeling less safe, see infection rates skyrocket and see long term health risks exposed. Our message from the start has been to support business, especially around reopening, but it is vital with infection rates so high that we do so safely and cautiously. 

What we are seeing here is businesses being responsible for setting their own guidelines and expectations of both their staff and customers, with no way of enforcing those expectations. We are seeing businesses being hit by self-isolation as those infection rates continue to increase and support being taperered off. The government has washed its hands of Covid restrictions but it is business who will have to pick up the pieces and live with the consequences”. 

READ MORE: Liverpool BID Company calls for specific support for independents and small businesses to prevent closure

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