| 21.5°C Belfast

Coronavirus: FSB warns some businesses will not reopen and prolonged closures will cost lives

Disappointing some businesses seen as 'bad guys' for reopening, says chair

Close

Concerned: Tina McKenzie

Concerned: Tina McKenzie

Concerned: Tina McKenzie

The Federation of Small Businesses in Northern Ireland has warned prolonged closures for firms will costs lives and impact the lives of future generations.

Chair Tina McKenzie said it was disappointing some businesses had been seen as "bad guys" for reopening during the outbreak.

"It should never be one group against the other," she told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster warning some will struggle to reopen.

"If we come out of this without an economy, without jobs, then the impacts of that will also be lives, there is no doubting that.

"And the impact on the quality of life for our children will also be huge.

"There is no way anyone would ever say that health and wellbeing of people should be put behind the economy. It is about having a grown up conversation.

"And also about remembering there are many people in this society who are continuing to be paid [like] politicians and those in the public sector and it is not fair we don't have a plan for these small businesses ans we need to get it."

Manufacturer Caterpillar resumed work on Monday and Bombardier is expected to begin some operations again this week. Both have said they will adhere to social distancing rules.

Ms McKenzie said many businesses would struggle to reopen with social distancing in place.

She said that while some had been creative with click-and-collect and delivery services during the lockdown "none of that's going to keep these businesses going long-term".

She said some owners have put in place measures that mean "their business will survive when all of this lifts and to give them some sort of level of income".

However, Ms McKenzie said even when restrictions are eased, social distancing will remain, meaning some owners will struggle to reopen.

"Lots of small companies have been really clever about organising stock to provide hampers ... but that is in the short term, none of that is going to keep these businesses going long term," she added.

"When you talk of those medium sized and even some of the larger businesses really [reopening] it is about ensuring bringing some of the workforce back to keep some of the business going and it is important it is safe for staff and you adhere to social distancing."

She added: "If you're in an environment like a small hairdressers or a small restaurant, and this is why the hospitality industry has been so affected, in certain circumstances you can't.

"Until we get more testing and identifying and isolating in place the way other countries have done then certain businesses unfortunately will not be able to open safely.

"Until Northern Ireland has some kind of strategy, some businesses are sitting on the sidelines just counting down the days and the more days there are, the more days it's likely that they may not return and that's quite serious."

Belfast Telegraph