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‘We received no warnings’: Christmas closure shock for Islington businesses

Virus restrictions announced with just hours’ notice for traders already struggling to survive

24 December, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Hairdresser Tony Stasi: ‘It was just so sudden, it has had a massive impact. It has been really challenging and really disheartening’

SHOPS and businesses were left in despair after the Prime Minister ordered them to close for Christmas at short notice.

Traders who spoke to the Tribune this week did not dispute the need to take action to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but said Boris Johnson’s lack of warning that London would be put under tier 4 restrictions from Sunday had only made it harder.

Tony Stasi, who runs a barber shop in Junction Road, said: “The Christmas period is our busiest time of the year. We received no warnings and no time to see our clients. It has cost us so much money and it’s a worry for our staff.”

The Stasi Barbers and Academy has been run by Mr Stasi’s family for 40 years. Within the premises there is a training academy for students who are learning the trade.

“It would have been nice if we had had some warning, at least one or two days for us to organise something,” said Mr Stasi.

“It was just so sudden, it has had a massive impact. It has been really challenging and really disheartening. There is no consistency and we can’t get that rhythm.”

Hak Huseyin

He added: “My students have paid for courses and it has been so on and off, it is not ideal for them either.”

Some businesses say they were already struggling to get financial help following the initial Covid-19 lockdown earlier in the year.

Hak Huseyin, chairman of Archway Town Centre Traders’ Association, said: “We’ve now been hit with the fourth tier. I look out on the high street and there’s literally the post shop open. Nobody is on the high street. I understand why it is being done but I think what is being missed is how quickly money has to be got to businesses to keep them afloat, keep staff afloat and to keep the wheels of business going.”

He added: “High streets are already struggling, not just in Archway. We had news saying there will be funds available to businesses, but what is hard for everyone to understand is why does it take so long for the support to come through?

“This is now the third time round this is happening – surely there should be a system in place now. I know this is unprecedented but this is the third [lockdown] now. The money should be getting to businesses quicker. Our fear is that some businesses will have to close.”

A government spokes­person said: “We know this is a very difficult period for businesses, but the current restrictions are essential so we can control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

“Businesses can access our unprecedented support package worth £280bn, including the extended furlough scheme which is protecting nearly 10 million jobs, grants for businesses required to close of up to £3,000 a month, business rates holidays, various loan schemes and VAT deferral.”


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