THE owners of independent non-essential businesses have been left fearing for their futures as the country is plunged into a third Covid-19 lockdown.

Gemma Williams, 35, runs a Boogie Bounce class in Blackburn and after not being able to work for most of 2020 due to restrictions, the national lockdown means she will have to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

She said: “It’s absolutely heart breaking. I have built up such a good business with clientele who are also lifelong friends.

“I just can’t see it happening, I can’t see anything getting any better.

“Then I’m thinking, I’m just going to lose everything - everything I have built up myself and it’s just going to be shattered."

The mother-of-two said, although she has tried hiring out trampolines to her clients for virtual classes, they have returned them saying they lack motivation without coming to an in-person class.

She has had new customers enquire about hiring trampolines but, as she has to give them a health and safety demonstration which is not currently possible, she cannot accept any new clients.

In East Lancashire, tiered restrictions and localised lockdowns have seen many businesses open and close through 2020 and hopes for 2021 to be a better year have been shattered as rules will see businesses close until at least the middle of February.

Sandwich shop Barlic Bites in Barnoldswick has been operating for 13 years but, with another lockdown, owner and manager Amanda Boardman is concerned that they may not make it to 14 years without support.

She said: “Obviously it is very difficult. We are a very small shop, so we have only been allowed two people in.

“After the announcement it is so very quiet - it is unlikely that we will be able to stay open.”

Although Amanda will likely have to close her doors again, she hopes that the businesses package and support of her community will ensure that Barlic Bites celebrates its 14th birthday.

Oswaldtwistle Furniture Emporium, which has been operating for more than 20 years, was able to stay open during the second national lockdown in November by operating a click and collect and delivery service.

After checking with the council, they can offer the service again which owner John Bradley believes will help them get through another lockdown.

He said: “This is the only thing we have really, it’s not ideal but something is better than nothing.

“We use our social media to remind people that we are here and we have noticed the local community have started shopping local more which is good.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced business packages yesterday for those who will have to close their doors due to the second lockdown.

Grants of up to £9,000 per property will be offered to businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, the Treasury said.

The payments are expected to cost £4 billion and support 600,000 business properties across the UK.

Another £594 million will be made available to councils and devolved nations to support businesses not covered by the new grants.