A LEADING voice in the Cumbrian business community has condemned the Government’s handling of the news Carlisle was set to go into Tier 2 restrictions as “shambolic” and “disrespectful” to businesses affected by the changes.

As of one minute past midnight today, Carlisle is now in Tier 2 Covid-19 restrictions.

The news this was to come was circulated via an update on the Government’s website yesterday morning, with an official announcement coming after 6pm yesterday evening - giving businesses and residents in the Carlisle area just hours to work out how to comply with the law.

The chief executive of the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, Rob Johnston, has lambasted the Government for what he said was the “poor” manner in which the announcement was made.

“I’m incredulous,” Mr Johnston said.

The Cumbria Chamber of Commerce was seemingly the first organisation in Cumbria to be alerted to the imminent change - after a member of staff discovered the update on the Government’s website.

The chamber, which seeks to represent the interests of businesses in Carlisle and across Cumbria, immediately alerted the city to the incoming change.

Local authorities had not been informed that the imposition of Tier 2 restrictions was coming today, only being told by the Government after the update had already been made.

The piecemeal way in which the information was shared was heavily criticised by Mr Johnston for the confusion it was likely to sow.

“Yet again, it demonstrates why people are behaving the way they are,” Mr Johnston said,

“People just don’t trust the information. We try and get this out because it is really important. It affects how a lot of people will behave.”

He added that businesses were given just hours to adapt to the changing legal circumstances in which they now have to operate.

“It affects the business models, particularly those in the hospitality industry. It significantly affects them.

“If it’s not articulated and presented, and the information and advice isn’t available immediately for those businesses to act upon, the consequences are that businesses may get it wrong, and could be operating unsafely against advice, or possibly operating illegally.

“It’s dreadful. How on earth are they meant to find out what they’re meant to do if this is the way the Government are releasing information?

“How on Earth can you expect them to get this right when you’ve this shambolic way of communicating?”

“It’s utterly disrespectful to the situation that these people are in.

“The vast majority of people running hospitality businesses are trying really hard to follow the rules. They know that not doing that means losing business.”