UK Politics

Sandwell traders fear a local lockdown could be ‘final nail in the coffin’

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Market traders in the West Midlands say business was already tough before coronavirus – and now they fear a second wave or local lockdown could be the "final nail in the coffin".

The borough of Sandwell, which includes West Bromwich, Oldbury, Tipton and Smethwick, is currently in the top 10 of areas in England with the highest rates of infection.

This leaves it in danger of having local restrictions being forced upon it by the government.

Sandwell's rate of infection rose to 28.1 per 100,000 people in the week up to 27 July, from 26.9 the previous week.

Image: Brett Packer sells clothes and home furnishings at a market in West Bromwich

Last month, West Bromwich Albion was promoted to football's Premier League but now the area is climbing a less welcome table.

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In the town's market, trade is only just beginning its return to health after the rigours of lockdown and none of the stall holders or shopkeepers want to see a second wave.

Brett Packer has been selling clothes and home furnishings at the market for more than 15 years.

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He said trade was already tough before coronavirus.

"It used to be heaving here on a daily basis, Monday to Saturday," he said.

"But this could be the final nail in the coffin. And if we get a second wave that could really devastate the whole area.

"If they lock down Sandwell and Smethwick, people will drive to Birmingham, they'll drive to Merry Hill. They've got to do their shopping somewhere.

"And the danger is they might not come back."

Boris Johnson says people can still go back to the office tomorrow – but some venues wont reopen and large events will be postponed.
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