BUSINESS leaders have called for “better treatment” from government and at least a week’s notice of new rules before the end of the second lockdown.

England’s extra coronavirus restrictions are due to end on December 2, but it is not yet clear what will replace them – or whether measures will be eased for Christmas.

Dorset Chamber is backing calls for businesses to be given clarity, along with scientific evidence for continuing restrictions on specific sectors.

Its chief executive, Ian Girling, said: “The government owes businesses the proper time and guidance as we approach the end of this second lockdown.

“Businesses that have been mandated to close need to know they will be able to re-open. We also see complete confusion with what is essential and what isn’t in terms of retail, with many businesses rightly feeling penalised by the government.

“Responsible business owners have taken every step to follow government guidance. They deserve better treatment and need clarity on the situation post-December 2.”

The chamber has issued a joint statement with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). The organisations also want an economic impact assessment of the continued business restrictions and closures.

The BCC wants at least one week’s notice of the arrangements that will replace the current restrictions on December 2.

It also wants the government to explain why businesses in some sectors have been forced to close “despite taking considerable steps at huge expense” to make themselves Covid-secure. Those sectors include leisure, non-essential retail and beauty.

It has submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to determine what evidence was used to inform government guidance.

BCC director-general Adam Marshall said: “Nine months into the pandemic, business communities are still crying out for timely information and a clear strategy from government so that they can survive and rebuild.

“Delays and imprecision mean people lose their livelihoods. Firms are taking difficult decisions every day about their futures, and are tired of being left to rely on speculation and rumour.

“The government must urgently set out the exit plan for the end of national restrictions in England on December 2 – and make it crystal-clear which businesses can operate, and under what conditions.

“Businesses have played their part by working hard and spending hundreds of millions of pounds to become Covid-secure, in line with official guidance.”