THE region’s main business leadership group has called for clarity with speculation continuing about a possible second lockdown.

Sharon Smith, chief executive of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, said if more lockdown restrictions are introduced, the government would need to adapt its business support schemes to protect the economy.

She said: “Possible further restrictions imposed on businesses would be a major step backwards in the UK’s economic recovery.

“Many businesses have already been impacted during the nationwide lockdown with on average 74 per cent experiencing reduced sales, leading to their cash reserves being depleted to dangerous levels.

READ MORE: Four new coronavirus test centres to open in Worcestershire

“The option of local lockdowns, similar to measures implemented in Birmingham are also on the table as possible government response to the rise in new infections.

“A more targeted approach from government, with extremely clearer guidelines would be required if this option went ahead.

“Alongside this, additional support measures for any businesses placed under more stringent local or national restrictions is essential.

“Government support schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme need to be adapted to provide ongoing support for those businesses who will also shortly be affected by the winding down of this scheme, along with any further restrictions.”

With Birmingham and some of its surrounding areas in a localised lockdown, speculation is growing Worcestershire could seeing similar restrictions, with the number of coronavirus cases in the county rising significantly in the last few weeks.

READ MORE: Where have coronavirus cases increased this week in Worcestershire?

A second coronavirus lockdown would have a devastating impact on the economy according to the government, with Health secretary Matt Hancock calling it “the last line of defence.”

Mr Hancock responded to reports that ministers are considering further national measures, even for just a two-week period, such as imposing a curfew on bars and restaurants.

He said the current approach was “targeted interventions” but “a national lockdown is the last line of defence”.

Earlier this week prime minister Boris Johnson described the potential impact of a second national lockdown on the economy as “disastrous”.