Businesses react to July 19th end date for Covid rules

By Nick Batten on 7 July, 2021

Local and national business voices give us their thoughts on Boris Johnson’s announcement confirming the lifting of most Coronavirus restrictions by July 19th…

 

Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West 

“This is a much-needed step on the road to normality and we welcome the Prime Minister setting out the direction of travel in advance of reopening.

“But businesses in the region still do not have the full picture they desperately need to plan for unlocking.

“Much remains in the balance, firms do not yet know the future of self-isolation rules, if testing will remain free for them, or when international travel will open up effectively.

“Without clear guidance for businesses around the new proposals, there could be real uncertainty on how they should operate going forward and what they should be doing to keep staff and their customers safe.

“This could lead to a fractured, patchwork approach with very different positions being taken by many businesses, across many locations. That, in turn, could severely undermine the public’s trust in reopening.

“All of this means the huge logistical headache firms face around reopening hasn’t disappeared and there remains a real risk of damage to business confidence.”

Neil Vinnicombe, Partner at Begbies Traynor in Bath

 “A further challenge for businesses reopening across the leisure, hospitality and entertainment sectors is wage inflation. Attracting and retaining personnel is a major headache for businesses across the board right now, with many operators having to offer increased rates of pay to get the staff they need over the busy summer period.

“Businesses facing increased operating costs will need to pass these on to customers in the form of higher prices and this simply won’t be sustainable for some over the long term, particularly once customer demand returns to more stable levels.”

John Foster, Director of Policy for CBI (Confederation of British Industry)

“Boosting customer and employee confidence must now be the absolute priority for supporting the economic recovery and learning to live with the virus. Developing a more agile and responsive test & release system for self-isolation will help give firms greater confidence in being able to plan for the future.

“Rapid testing availability means it’s right to relax self-isolation rules, which is critical as cases increase. This important change will lead to less disruption for employers and employees alike, particularly for sectors that have been operating under restrictions the longest. And as staff shortages are already biting, it’s important the government moves quickly.

“There are other areas where clarity from government can help to boost confidence to secure the recovery. For example, knowing whether workplace testing will continue beyond July, and introducing a risk-based system with a targeted test & release scheme for the international travel sector.

“Responsible employers can play their part too, by placing a premium on close dialogue with employees and informing customers how they are reopening safely.”