Support for businesses must continue. That is the message from the chairman of Hampshire's Chamber of Commerce.

Responding to the Prime Minister's speech on Sunday night on lockdown policy, Ross McNally, chief executive and executive chairman, said: “Ministers must maintain and evolve the lifeline of financial support for businesses through grants, loans and wage subsidies.

“The goal must be to give as many firms as possible a fighting chance to navigate a phased return to work in line with the easing of lockdown and social distancing. The crucial safety net needs to stay in place during this critical period in our history, despite the cost to the Treasury. In particular, we call on the government to consider extending the furlough scheme beyond June and be more flexible in its approach, so allowing part-time return for example.

“It is highly likely that coronavirus will see our economy undergo the most severe recession in centuries. How strongly and quickly we recover will depend on many factors but right at the top is the need to keep following medical and scientific advice. Public health and economic growth are inextricably linked so if a gradual approach to the easing of lockdown is the best recommendation then that is what we must follow. If we move too quickly, we risk both a second wave of infection and a delayed economic recovery

“As businesses and supply chains begin to resume activity – with some sectors doing this more quickly than others – workplace safety will be a heightened priority. The government must provide the clearest possible guidance on the protection of staff and the business risk liabilities of employers.

“Just as crucially, ministers must ensure the safety of staff and their families outside work. That means a safe and sustainable supporting infrastructure of public transport, schools, childcare provision and other local services.”