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Leon boss warns longer Covid lockdown 'will cost lives' as he reveals food chain is losing £200k a week and could fold

THE BOSS of Leon has warned that a longer Covid lockdown "will cost lives" as he reveals that the food chain is losing £200,000 a week.

John Vincent, 49, said that businesses on the brink of collapse because of the pandemic need a lifeline – as they are at the "heart of society."

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Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Vincent said it was "quite possible" that Leon could fold "if weeks and months drag on."

He said: "What concerns me is the voices I’ve heard in the past few weeks, which is "what does it matter if lockdowns go on a few months or few weeks longer than necessary?"

"I tell you, it matters hugely. I tell you therefore, how can we be making this decision about the impact on the young, today and on their futures?

"How can we be making these decisions about the future economic destruction which is costing lives?

"When we lose our economy we lose lives."

He estimated that his firm is losing an extra £800,000 a week with £200,000 of cash "going out the bank."

Mr Vincent added: "So that’s money that isn’t going into the economy, it’s not going into the wallets of people that work at Leon, and it’s not going to pay the taxes that we need to pay.

"About 235 businesses a week are going under. It’s not being reported, it’s not being understood.

"We served 1million meals as leading feed NHS, a million meals to frontline ITU teams. 

LOCKED IN LIMBO

"If we don’t exist, which is quite plausible if the weeks and months drag on, we can’t even do the basics of what we did to feed a million meals to frontline teams.

"Businesses are at the heart of a functioning, healthy society."

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the prime minister would lay out a plan for "gradually reopening our economy and society in a sustainable way" on Monday.

Boris Johnson's announcement on February 22 will set out the roadmap out of lockdown – with schools and education still heading as the priority.

The PM has stressed that any relaxation of restrictions will be done cautiously to keep transmission of the virus low. 

Schools are set to reopen first from March 8, with non-essential shops expected to open afterwards.

And should coronavirus infections continue to fall, pubs and restaurants will be able to serve outdoors in April. 

The reopening of hospitality is being fast-tracked in a major boost to the blighted sector – and thirsty Brits.

Hospitality had been earmarked to reopen in May, with only takeaway pints allowed in April.

But that has now been sped up in a major boost for the industry – though a wider reopening for limited indoor mixing in pubs is still planned for May.

 

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