Blackpool tourism businesses challenge Government’s Tier 3 decision
Blackpool’s hard-hit business community has urged Government to review the resort’s Tier 3 status to prevent irreparable damage.
The enhanced Tier 3 designation took effect from December 2 and has left most of the tourism and hospitality industry shut down following the decision to impose the new restrictions at pan-Lancashire level.
Blackpool Tourism Recovery Group, set up after the first national lockdown and comprising key stakeholders in the visitor economy, including attractions, venues and accommodation providers, argues that the Tier 3 designation is disproportionate.
It says that infection rates have fallen steadily since October 22 and that average rates in Blackpool and the neighbouring authorities in Fylde and Wyre are below the national average.
A spokesperson for the group said: “There was a cohesive argument put forward to Government for Blackpool and parts of West Lancashire to be treated differently from the east of the county.
“That argument was based on statistical evidence that becomes more compelling with each passing day. There was no logic at the outset in pushing Blackpool into Tier 3 and there is even less of a case for us being there now.
“The impact that these enhanced and unnecessary restrictions are having on our tourism economy is there for all to see and it is time for the Government to recognise that it is inflicting further damage by lumping together parts of the county that have very different circumstances.”
The group says that the Prime Minister should re-examine the tier structure ahead of the formal December 16 review date and give some tourism and hospitality businesses a realistic opportunity to plan ahead and resume some level of business in the run up to Christmas.
Dr Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health for Blackpool Council, endorsed the Recovery Group’s view.
He said: “I have said repeatedly that we need to reduce the levels of COVID but at the same time not irreparably damage our economy. Damaging people’s livelihoods will ultimately damage public health in the long term.
“We have made significant and sustained progress in reducing our infection rates from a peak of 540 in October to 156 now. At the same time, positive test rates have also fallen.
“We are not advocating a return to Tier 2 so that people can start to ease back. On the contrary, we are asking for the decision to be based on statistical evidence that supports Blackpool having a Tier 2 designation which seems proportionate and allows us to gradually open up the tourism and hospitality sector in a safe and controlled manner.
“We have made great inroads in getting all of our businesses COVID-secure and we have invested in COVID marshals to support our Public Protection teams. Those efforts will continue unabated to help keep infections at bay.”
Cllr Gillian Campbell, Cabinet Member for Tourism & Culture and a member of the Tourism Recovery Group, added: ““The business community in Blackpool has already made one impassioned plea to the Prime Minister to recognise the unique challenges facing our tourism industry and provide the right level of support before it is damaged beyond repair.
“Sadly, there has been no direct response or even acknowledgment of that plea, but it is a message that the Government ignores at its peril. Several more weeks of Tier 3 restrictions will push some businesses over the edge and it would be fundamentally wrong not to recognise that in reviewing the tier designations this month.”