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Following a sustained and rapid rise in COVID-19 cases due to the new strain of the virus and the increasing pressure on the NHS, the Government has announced a new England-wide lockdown. This includes a stay-at-home order and the continued closure of all non-essential retail (apart from click-and-collect) and hospitality businesses will only be able to provide takeaway food services (but not to include alcoholic drinks). These heightened restrictions will stay in place until at least the Government review of the measures on 15 February 2021.

We welcome the announcement by the Chancellor that those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive additional one-off grants worth up to £9,000 per property, in addition to existing grants. We will be working with other groups to lobby for the extension of business rates relief, the furlough scheme and VAT reductions for hospitality businesses for a sufficient period to support the sustained recovery of businesses which have suffered as a results of lockdowns and social distancing restrictions since last March.

We know the great lengths that those working in the retail and hospitality sectors have gone to in recent weeks and months to keep themselves and those around them safe with the use of stringent social distancing and other safety measures. We urge everyone to fully comply with the guidance issued by the Government and as ever, Shaftesbury’s priority will remain to be supporting all our businesses and residents throughout what will be a further challenging lockdown during the coming months.

Following nine months of pandemic-related disruption to the patterns of lives and businesses we all took for granted, the coming months are likely to be particularly challenging for everyone. However, with an unprecedented vaccination programme now underway, we can now look forward to a gradual return of normality, at a pace which should quicken as we move into summer and autumn. Shaftesbury will continue to support our occupiers and residents through this period and beyond, confident that recovery and a return to better times is on the horizon.