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18 Jan 2022

Eastwood urges Chancellor Sunak to back businesses to operate safely

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Foyle MP Colum Eastwood: "We cannot stand by and watch sections of our economy fall apart"

Foyle MP, Colum Eastwood, has written to British Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging the Treasury to make specific financial support available for sectors which experience a significant loss of trade as a result of rising cases of the Omicron variant.

The SDLP leader said that Northern Ireland’s vaccine certification programme is allowing businesses to operate safely but concern about the transmissibility of the new Covid variant is clearly having an impact on the hospitality and entertainment sectors.

Mr Eastwood also urged his constituents – and the wider public across the North of Ireland – to get their Covid vaccinations and boosters as soon as possible in order protect themselves over Christmas.

He said: “Over the last few weeks, we have been doing everything we can to allow businesses to operate safely and assure those who have received their Covid vaccinations, or who receive a negative lateral flow test, that they can support local businesses with confidence.

“It is becoming very clear, however, that people are understandably worried about the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, the severity of the infection and the prospect of isolating over Christmas.

“This is causing a dip in consumer confidence that has resulted in cancelled bookings in the hospitality and entertainment sectors.

“I have written to Rishi Sunak today to urge the Chancellor to make an immediate sector specific intervention to support businesses that experience a material change in trade as a result of the concern over the Omicron variant.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak

“We cannot stand by and watch sections of our economy fall apart because people are, understandably, exercising caution over this virus.

“I am again appealing to everyone to get vaccinated and to get their booster as soon as possible.

“The booster programme will be available for all adults from next week and it is the single most effective step we can all take as individuals to protect ourselves and our loved ones this Christmas.”

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