The co-founder of fast food chain Leon has warned of the “terrible downsides” of extending lockdown, arguing that its economic impact is “costing lives”.
John Vincent said it was “quite plausible” his business would not exist if “the weeks and months” of restrictions “drag on”.
Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Vincent said “businesses are at the heart of a healthy functioning society”.
He claimed the Government had failed to produce a “holistic cost benefit analysis” of lockdowns.
Asked what such research would show, he said: “I think it would be something that took into account the terrible downsides of extending lockdown more than we need to.
“And what concerns me is the voices that I’ve heard in the past few weeks, which is: ‘what does it matter if lockdowns go on a few months or a few weeks longer than necessary?’
“I tell you it matters hugely and therefore how can we be making this decision about the impact on the young today and for their futures?
“How can we be making (decisions about) the impact 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 an analysis.”
Mr Vincent, who is also chair of the Council for Sustainable Business – which advises the Government, suggested there was a “pantomime of scientists against business people as if there isn’t one giant shared agenda” and said he was concerned the latter were positioned as “uncompassionate”.
Mr Vincent said Leon was losing around £200,000 a week, adding: “That probably means that versus what we would have been making, we’re losing probably an extra £800,000.”
He added: “So that’s money that isn’t going into the economy, it’s not going into the wallets of the people who work at Leon, and it’s not going to pay the taxes that we need to pay.
“So that absolutely costs lives.”
Mr Vincent continued: “No one’s asked us (for) these numbers. So how does the Government even know what’s going on in the economy?”
His comments come ahead of the Prime Minister revealing his “road map” for the easing of coronavirus restrictions in England on Monday.
Asked what his message to Boris Johnson would be, Mr Vincent said: “Produce the analysis, inform yourself and take the whole picture into account for the good of society.”