Sheffield Chamber boss's 'intensifying' concern over test and trace as local lockdown looms

The president of Sheffield Chamber has written to the city’s MPs ahead of an anticipated local lockdown to express his ‘intensifying’ concern over test and trace.
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Matt Jackson said establishing a ‘fully operational test and trace system’ would reopen shuttered industries and ensure as many businesses as possible can function effectively.

Without it, companies, especially those in retail, leisure, hospitality, and tourism, would ‘inevitably’ cease trading, cut jobs, or reduce capacity, he warned.

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The government’s app-based test and trace system limits the spread of the virus by identifying those who have had close contact with someone who tests positive and advising them to self-isolate.

Matt Jackson, Sheffield Chamber president.Matt Jackson, Sheffield Chamber president.
Matt Jackson, Sheffield Chamber president.

Currently 67 per cent of contacts are reached within 24 hours. But critics say this is too low.

Last week, a technical glitch meant the close contacts of 16,000 people in England who tested positive were not traced.

Now, Government is expected to roll out new restrictions to combat a rise in cases.

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Mr Jackson said they must be made on the right data - and come with financial support.

A Chamber survey of UK firms found 46 per cent had reported a drop in sales and 47 per cent a fall in exports.

He added: “Many struggling firms anticipate reduced demand or being forced to scale back operations as a result of further local or national restrictions. Any such decisions should be taken on the right data and with due consideration to local economic needs.

“There must be commensurate financial support for businesses who need to change the way they operate through no fault of their own.

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“And confidence must be built in the test and trace system to minimise the externalities of any restrictions. We support the calls of the British Chambers of Commerce for the Government to go further and faster in developing its test and trace system.”

He said the Government could do this by:

• Linking more types of test, including rapid testing, to the NHS test and trace system

• Using its purchasing power to support businesses in accessing routine testing for employees

• Utilising private sector and university partners to increase test-processing capacity

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• Devolving resources and responsibilities to local and regional partners

The letter was addressed to MPs Gill Furniss, Paul Blomfield, Olivia Blake, Louise Haigh, Clive Betts and Miriam Joy Cates.

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