A local lockdown would be a disaster for Cumbria’s economy, a leading business organisation said.
After Carlisle experienced a spike in infections and reports suggest customers at four pubs in the city may have been exposed to the virus, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses to co-operate with NHS Test and Trace.
If cases continue to rise, a second coronavirus lockdown could be imposed, like it has been in Leicester, to prevent the virus spreading.
The chamber said another lockdown would have a huge impact on the county’s confidence and recovery and businesses could fold.
Rob Johnston, chief executive, said: “The experience in Leicester is a warning to us all.
“Businesses there had invested heavily in safe working and social distancing measures so they could operate safely and were then forced to shut again leaving them with no revenue.
“Some won’t survive a second lockdown.
“Visitors are staying away from Leicester and the city’s image has been tarnished.
“Cumbria, which relies heavily on the visitor economy, simply cannot afford to suffer reputational damage of this sort.
“It’s vital that businesses in hospitality and close-contact services, such as hairdressers, fulfil their obligation to keep records of visiting customers so they can be traced in the event of someone testing positive for COVID-19.
“It can feel like an onerous bureaucratic burden but it’s absolutely key to keeping a lid on this.
“It’s important too that businesses don’t abuse the information they collect. It’s purely for the benefit of NHS Test and Trace and can’t be used for marketing purposes, for example.”
Mr Johnston added: “We know that some consumers, especially older people, are still reluctant to visit shops and eating places because they’re worried about picking up the virus.
“The best way to give them confidence to return is to drive down the infection rate. Only NHS Test and Trace can do that. It’s in the interests of every business to make it work.”
The latest figures show that Eden currently has 177 confirmed coronavirus cases, which represents 334 cases per 100,000 of population. Last week there were 159 cases. The number of deaths in Eden has also risen by one since last week, to 42.