Covid-19: A personal appeal from Chamber CEO Rob Johnston

Rob Johnston

It’s not in our nature to tell businesses what to do.

But we are in extraordinary times so I’m writing to ask you to do everything in your power to co-operate with NHS Test and Trace.

The recent experience in Leicester, where a local lockdown has been imposed, is a warning to all of us.

Businesses there had invested heavily in safe working and social-distancing measures so they could operate safely and were then forced to shut again leaving them with no revenue.

Some won’t survive a second lockdown. Visitors are staying away from Leicester and the city’s image has been tarnished.

Cumbria, which relies so heavily on the visitor economy, simply cannot afford to suffer reputational damage of this sort.

NHS Test and Trace is key to keeping a lid on it.

The requirements on hospitality and close-contact services, such as hairdressers, to keep detailed records of staff and visiting customers can feel like an onerous bureaucratic burden.

But meticulous record keeping is the only way to ensure that potential carriers can be traced in the event of someone testing positive for Covid-19.

It’s important too that businesses don’t abuse the information they collect. The data is purely for the benefit of NHS Test and Trace and can’t be used for marketing purposes, for example.

We’ve already seen a spike in infections in Carlisle and we know that customers at four pubs in the city may have been in contact with infected individuals between July 9 and 18.

As yet, infection levels here are nowhere near those seen in Leicester but we must be vigilant to ensure that any localised outbreaks are contained.

The Chamber hears time and again from reopening retailers and hospitality businesses that many of their customers haven’t returned.

Some consumers, especially older people, remain reluctant to visit shops and eating places because they’re worried about picking up the virus.

The best way to give them confidence is to drive down the infection rate. Only NHS Test and Trace can do that. It’s in all our interests to make it work.

We have here the guidance for the scheme, a list of frequently asked questions and advice from the Information Commissioner on the data protection implications of collecting personal information on staff and customers.

NHS Test and Trace has published advice on how to recognise, contain and report outbreaks of Covid-19 on your premises. There’s a series of action cards to download for different types of business.

You’ll find more in our Restart, Rebuild and Renew toolkit, which is updated daily with the latest information.

If there’s anything else, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards


Chief Executive, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

***Following Rob’s letter, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, Colin Cox, has written to all the county’s pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes on the importance of maintaining accurate and complete contact tracing records. You can read his letter here.


© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce