Plan B: Harrogate faces up to impact and costs of new Covid restrictions announced by Boris Johnson

Harrogate awoke today to a changed world once again after the Government’s decision to implement Plan B today with the arts world and businesses weighing up the potential scale of the impact.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 5:21 pm
The push to get a booster jab - A doctor at Harrogate Vaccination Centre feature. (Picture Gerard Binks)

In reaction to the new Government advice triggered by fears over the Omicron strain of Covid, ticket holders for tonight's show at the Royal Hall in Harrogate by The Bootleg Beatles, ticket holders are being advised to take precautions including Covid passports and face masks.

The statement from organisers at Harrogate's most historic live venue said:

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"Please note you will need to provide proof of vaccination in whatever form you have it; app, card or pass - or proof of a negative test within the last 48 hours if asked or proof of exemption.

"You may be checked upon entry to the venue so please have it ready to show.

"Please wear a mask to enter the building whilst taking your seats."

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the latest changes would come with a "huge cost" to the economy's "fragile recovery".

The BCC claimed that a return to advice that staff should work from home ‘where they can’ will come at a huge cost to swathes of businesses.

Many businesses had only just begun to get back on their feet and this move will inevitably be damaging.

In addition, it said, firms needed to know that the Government will support them through this next period.

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, CBE, President of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “A return to advice that staff should work from home ‘where they can’ will come at a huge cost to swathes of businesses.

“While many firms now have well established remote or hybrid working practices, which will provide some resilience, there will be many more that will be badly affected by reduced footfall in our towns and city centres.

“This will impact on business revenues at a time when many needed to have a prosperous festive season. We need to have grant support in place for all firms affected and their supply chains.”

And the BCC president hit out at the Government for the lack of planning.

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith said: “We have been calling on the UK Government for several months to set out what contingency plans for business would look like if further restrictions were needed this winter.

"Yet again, firms are now being asked to make changes at the very last minute. Restrictions will also impact on consumer behaviour with knock on effects which could risk the fragile recovery, order books and revenues.

“Many businesses have only just begun to get back on their feet and this move will inevitably damage business confidence. Critically, firms need to know that the Government will support them through this next period.

“The Government must once again stand shoulder to shoulder with business and provide a package of support to ensure that we get through a challenging winter without serious damage to our economic recovery.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still pinning his faith on the booster jab campaign to prevent further restrictions.

The campaign will now be rolled out at 1,500 community pharmacy sites and extra hospital hubs.

Booster jabs are being offered to all over-18s and the gap between second dose and booster will be reduced to three months from six.

People with weakened immune systems will be offered a fourth dose - as a booster - no sooner than three months after their third.

Children aged 12 to 15 will be invited for a second dose, three months after their first.

As part of the national drive, Harrogate’s biggest vaccination centre located at the Great Yorkshire Showground is set to stay open into the New Year as the Government throws everything at the booster jabs campaign.

In general people are being urged not to try to book their booster until the NHS says it's their turn.

But the jab site at Yorkshire Event Centre in Harrogate is welcoming walk-in appointments until 4pm this Sunday, December 12.

Meanwhile, the Government’s decision to implement Plan B has been welcomed as the "right one" by the British Medical Council (BMA).

Responding to news that the Government will implement Plan B for dealing with Covid-19 and the Omicron variant, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair said:

“Nobody wants to see further restrictions placed on their lives because of Covid-19, but the Government’s decision to implement Plan B is the right one, and should remain under consideration as we head deeper into the winter months.

“We’ve had increasingly high incidences of Covid-19 for some time now - more than 339,861 cases across the UK in the last seven days alone – and healthcare workers are rightly worried about the impact the Omicron variant could have on the ability for the NHS to function if cases continue to rise at the rapid rates already seen."