Essex’s chamber of commerce has said new coronavirus measures may be the “final straw” for businesses already struggling financially due to the pandemic.

It was announced today that Essex would be elevated from Tier 1 coronavirus restrictions to Tier 2, meaning, from Saturday, separate households can no longer mix or meet up at a pub or restaurant.

“Government financial support has been helpful cannot but continue indefinitely and these new measures may be the final straw for some businesses who have to cease trading or make staff redundant and we should not be surprised to see unemployment rise in the county”, said Denise Rossiter, chief executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce.

“We are concerned that local politicians have had to request that Essex is moved from the medium Covid level to the high level. Businesses in the county have worked hard to protect their staff, customers and the wider public by adopting suitable protective measures with training for employees to help fight the spread of this virus. They will never knowingly put people at risk.”

Tier 2 is known as the “high” alert level. This is the next step up from Tier 1, the medium level of restrictions initially facing most of the country, like the rule of six and curfews for pubs and restaurants.

No-one can meet people from different households indoors in public and private or travel to any area not bound by the same restrictions to do so, unless they are part of a support bubble known as a linked household.

You can still meet people outdoors but only in groups of up to six people.

Nightclubs and any other venue that opens at night, plays music and has a dancefloor, must close.

Restaurants, pubs, bars, members clubs and dining areas in hotels serving food and drink must all continue to adhere to the 10pm curfew, although takeaway services can continue.

Supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations can stay open.

The tougher restrictions will “decimate” pubs unless they receive further government support, The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has warned.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said the tighter measures will leave “most pubs fighting for their very survival”.

In a statement on Thursday, she said: “Tier 2 restrictions will decimate pubs, brewers and their supply chains in these regions unless a proper package of support is given to them.

“All pubs are already particularly struggling due to the current restrictions of the 10pm curfew, Rule of Six and low consumer confidence exacerbated by low footfall caused by a lack of tourists and commuters.

“Tier 2 measures mean pubs can remain open, but households cannot mix inside them.

“This completely kills our pubs’ business model, making many of them totally unviable, yet under Tier 2 restrictions they are not eligible for any additional financial support from Government, unlike in Tier 3 where additional support is provided.”

Epping Forest Guardian:

For more breaking news, local headlines and features, ‘like’ our Facebook page.

We also have a Twitter account: @EppingFGuardian

Follow us to keep up-to-date with news in Epping Forest.