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Leon Chief warns further lockdown ‘will cost lives’

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The co-founder of fast-food chain Leon has said that extending lockdown by even a matter of weeks will “cost lives”.

John Vincent said businesses were “at the heart of a functioning and healthy society” he is worried about the impact lockdown is having given many are losing income through loss of wages and the government’s coffers not being propped up through taxes.

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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”, as it was losing around £200,000 a week.

He went on to say £800,000 would be a more accurate figure when “what we would have been making” is considered.

Mr Vincent said: “That’s money that isn’t going into the economy, it’s not going into the wallets of the people who work for Leon, and it’s not going to pay the taxes that we need to pay,

“No one’s asked us for these numbers, so how does the government know what’s going on in the economy?”

He went on to say there had been a “pantomime of scientists against business” during the pandemic – “as if there isn’t one giant shared agenda” – and the latter were “positioned as the uncompassionate ones”.

“Therefore, how can we be making this decision about the impacts on the young today and for their futures? How can we make (decisions about) the impacts of the huge economic destruction which is costing lives? When we lose our economy, we lose lives,”

“How can we be saying, glibly, ‘it doesn’t matter if lockdown carries on for a few weeks or months longer than necessary’ without the analysis? I wouldn’t launch a chicken wrap without analysis.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the nation should be “optimistic but patient” about national lockdowns as he plans to set out his road map for lifting England’s restrictions on Monday.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said “We understand that this is an extremely tough time for UK restaurants, but we are supporting business with one of the most comprehensive and generous packages of business support in the world worth over £280 billion,”

“As we navigate our way out of lockdown, we will continue to work closely with the hospitality sector, as we have done throughout this pandemic.”

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