By Daniel Hill
BUTTERCRANE shopping centre manager Peter Murray has stated that although he does not think the introduction of a third national lockdown to curb the rising number of Coronavirus cases will come to pass , if such a lockdown was implemented then it would be in his own words “bad for business.”
Peter, who is the manager of one of Newry's most popular shopping destinations, made the comments amidst growing speculation that a third lockdown could be possible in the new year due to the fact that Northern Ireland has been recorded as having the highest rates of new Covid 19 infections in the UK. This in combination with Stormont reinforcing the message for people to work from home "where possible” has lead some to believe that a third lockdown could now be inevitable.
Mr Murray cites the absence of a furlough scheme to support those who would become unemployed in the event of a third lockdown as one of the main reasons as to why he hopes the Executive would not resort to such a measure to curb the rising number of cases of new Coronavirus infection in Northern Ireland.
"Whilst I recognise that the rate of new Covid-19 infections has increased in recent weeks It is my hope that a third lockdown is not introduced. Another lockdown would be extremely bad for business. It would not in anyway benefit any of the retail workers here in the Buttercrane because there is no discussion of a furlough scheme being in place as a safeguard this time around.”
Although Mr Murray hopes that the Northern Ireland Executive will not have to resort to the introduction of a third lockdown , he does state that such a measure will not be necessary if people simply comply with the restrictions already laid in place to control the spread of the virus, such as social distancing and the wearing of face masks in indoor settings.
“I do not see any of the restrictions currently put in place by the Executive going anytime soon becasue, like I said, the rate of new Covid-19 infection is on the increase.
“However, I believe that there are enough restrictions at the minute that have been in place all year round and if people are compliant with these, this would be sufficient to help us avoid another lockdown.
“Whenever people are in the Buttercrane and other shopping outlets if they simply comply with current Covid-19 safety measures such as the wearing of face coverings and the maintaining of social distancing then hopefully this will make enough of a difference to avoid anything untoward coming down the line. We also need to remain sensible and avoid social gatherings.
"For example, here in the Buttercrane will soon be hosting the arrival of Santa Claus, but with incidents of new Covid 19 infection increasing we have taken the very pragmatic decision not to host any events that will result in large congregations such as a choir or music event.”
Mr Murray also expressed his gratitude for the Introduction of the £100.00 shop local voucher scheme that has been implemented by the Economies Minister Gordon Lyons, stating that it has been a great benefit to high street retail and that “ “we have definitely seen an uplift in the Buttercrane thanks to it.”
"I must also commend the Northern Ireland executive for the implementation of the £100.00 high street voucher scheme. This has been a great benefit to the high street, people are spending it on a variety of different things and supporting the local economy.
“This injection of cash into the local economy has been extremely good and we have certainly seen an uplift here in the Buttercrane thanks to it.”
Mr Murray concluded by stating that although he does not hope a third lockdown will be implemented by the N.I Executive, like everyone else he “does not have a crystal ball.” and that if a third lockdown is implemented then “we will have to be compliant.”
"Having said this, like everyone I have no crystal ball. If a third lockdown is implemented by government, then we will have to be compliant. A third lockdown would be a pretty difficult situation, however public health has to be put first above all else.“