Latest Covid-19 Lockdown Slams U.K. Business Owners

LONDON—Ed Mason has 91,000 pints of beer at risk in the U.K.’s third pandemic lockdown, the latest in a series of strict restrictions on business that has sapped morale and made even simple planning a nightmare.

Beer from Mr. Mason’s Five Points Brewing Co., a London-based independent brewer, will spoil if the current lockdown stretches beyond the six weeks announced by the government earlier this month. This latest lockdown follows a similar closure of businesses in the spring, a month-long shutdown lasting most of November and into December and a series of fast-changing restrictions that differ by region based on local infection rates.

The on-and-off measures have kept U.K. businesses from being able to make even basic decisions about things like inventory levels, cash flow and employees.

“The stop-start nature of these restrictions makes it virtually impossible to plan for, whether on cash flow or strategy,” Mr. Mason said. “There is a sense of resignation now.”

Adding another layer of uncertainty: On Dec. 31, the U.K. ended a transition period after breaking from the European Union. Some businesses grappling with lockdowns are simultaneously working through new rules for exports, imports and hiring workers from the EU.

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