The dramatic announcement from prime minister Boris Johnson on Saturday that tier three Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant, will join much of the south east in the new tier four has sent shockwaves across the business community.
It means shops, gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and bowling alleys will be forced to close for two weeks – with the government set to review the tiers on December 30.
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The hasty declaration – just two days after going into tier three – will have consequences, business owners have said.
Matt Styler, joint owner of Don Styler’s Physical Training Centre in Monks Walk, Gosport, said: ‘It is disappointing news. We have a few weeks open and then they close us again.
‘Each time we close down less customers back as they lose momentum or cannot be bothered, probably because they think we will close down again.
‘I think the government will keep doing this until spring now they have created a new tier. It is a way of having a lockdown without calling it a lockdown.
‘It’s horrific. Any grant you get is taken out of your earnings and you pay tax on it.’
Natalie Stevens, joint owner of Chris Stephens Hair Design, in Stoke Road, Gosport, said: ‘It’s terrible news. We’ve only been open for two and a half weeks and now have to shut again. It’s a disaster.
‘We anticipated we might close in January but not in the week before Christmas. It is an important money week for us. We’re shocked.
‘I can’t see the government letting us open in January. We’re not sure we will make it through this.
‘We paid over £3,000 in rent a week ago. If we’d known what was going to happen we would have a chat to our landlord about what to do but we won’t be able to get the money back now.’
Tammy Wright, owner of [email protected] in Priory Crescent, Southsea, said: ‘It is devastating for us. It is our busiest time of the year. It’s worrying.
‘We’ve lost quite a few thousand pounds already this year – we’ve probably lost a whole year worth of takings.
‘The government helps to cover bills but it does not make up for the money we’ve lost through income.
‘We’re lucky we have loyal customers so we think we’ll be ok but we know of people who have put all their money into a pub and then had to shut down.
‘You wonder what’s going to happen next.’