Dr Simon Festing BHTA
Dr Simon Festing, CEO of BHTA

Following the decision to introduce national lockdowns in England and Scotland, along with likely lockdown extensions in Wales and Northern Ireland, the BHTA has called on the UK government to provide additional support to businesses.

Both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced lockdowns in their respective nations yesterday, with England’s lockdown restrictions set to be reviewed in mid-February.

The news follows a rapid spike in COVID-19 cases, with Boris Johnson warning that without tight restrictions, NHS capacity could be overwhelmed within three weeks.

Responding to the lockdown announcement, Simon Festing, CEO of the British Healthcare Trades Association, said: “Given the mounting cases of COVID-19 and pressure facing the NHS, the BHTA recognises the need for government action.

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“The BHTA would like to remind mobility and independent living retailers that they can continue to operate and keep their showrooms open as they are classed as ‘essential businesses’ by the government. This follows significant lobbying throughout 2020 by the Association to have the industry recognised for the vital work it does to keep elderly and vulnerable people mobile and independent. We welcome the government’s support to continue to identify our members as essential during this third lockdown.

“Despite being classed as ‘essential’, however, this lockdown will undoubtedly cause significant trade disruption for many of our retail members – particularly those with bricks and mortar stores, usually located in town centres. This is compounded with the reintroduction of shielding of the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ who are a key customer demographic for many of our members.

“To support these essential businesses, the BHTA is calling on the government to extend business rates relief from April 2021, helping retailers that have been impacted by repeated lockdowns.

“The BHTA is also working to provide additional support to the breadth of its membership during this period. In particular, the Association is providing enhanced support on Brexit and medical devices regulation whilst continuing to lobby for the best interests of our members at all levels of government and public authorities.

“In addition, the BHTA is working with all stakeholders to ensure patient-facing key workers within member companies are prioritised as high as possible on the vaccine provision list.

“Since the outbreak in March 2020, BHTA members have continued to abide by their ethical code of conduct, and gone above and beyond to ensure they are operating safely to protect vulnerable people. As the industry continues to deliver its services throughout this third lockdown, the BHTA urges its members to continue taking every COVID-secure precaution possible.”

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