Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
8:25 PM 5th April 2021

CBI & BCC React To PM's Announcement On Roadmap Out Of Lockdown

Reacting to the Prime Minister's announcement and update on the route map out of lockdown, that phase 2 will go ahead on April 12, John Foster, CBI Director of Policy, said: “Knowing the Covid roadmap is on track can help create the economic momentum the country needs as the second phase of reopening begins.

“The retail and outdoor hospitality sectors can now gear up with certainty and confidence for a safe start.

“Covid status certificates have a part to play in some of the more challenging parts of the economy, like large scale events. The government has listened to industry concerns and is seeking to deploy them in a targeted way. These first trials will be watched with great interest. Any introduction ought to come with rigorous guidance and enforcement to help firms navigate ethical, legal and practical implementation challenges.

John Foster
John Foster
“Restarting international travel is vital for all parts of the economy, including tourism. The new traffic light system is a simple, risk-based approach that business has been calling for. It should be implemented alongside straightforward border arrangements, advance testing where necessary, and high-quality communications about any future changes to a country’s status.

“Taken together, this new package of measures – along with the success of the vaccine roll-out – gives the UK a real chance of leading the world in a safe and sustainable re-opening of the economy, hopefully paving the way for a strong recovery.”

On the expansion of free rapid testing, John Foster, CBI Director of Policy, said: “Alongside the vaccine rollout, mass, rapid testing remains an essential tool in tackling the virus. So expanding access to testing is a good step forward. Knowing how it fits in with existing workplace testing programmes will be crucial for avoiding cost and complexity for firms. And the Government should continue dialogue with business about longer term workplace testing beyond June, providing confidence to employees and customers alike.”

Speaking for the the BCC Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director of the BCC, said: “This is great news. Many firms will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that they will soon be able to reopen their doors to customers. The last year has taken a heavy toll on firms across the UK and they will be counting down the hours until they can begin trading and rebuilding their businesses.

“However, the route back to a full reopening of the economy is still a long way off, with continued uncertainty for some sectors about whether, and when, the next roadmap steps will be met, and many more firms asking questions, yet to be answered, about when they can open at full capacity or with fewer restrictions.

Claire Walker
Claire Walker
“The latest BCC Quarterly Economic Survey has shown that businesses are becoming more optimistic about the future. But that confidence is fragile and absolute clarity and honesty will be needed every step of the way over the weeks ahead, so that companies have a fighting chance to rebuild.

“To translate hope of renewal into reality there must be a coherent strategy for growth which empowers and enables businesses to lead the economic recovery from Covid-19. Firms will need time to get back on their feet, with the security of knowing Government will support them should the roadmap falter.”

Commenting on International Travel, Claire Walker, said: “The sectors which rely on international travel and their supply chains have been hit extremely hard over the last year and have faced one of the longest periods of uncertainty about when they would be able to resume normal operations.

“It is absolutely vital that the Global Travel Taskforce provides certainty as soon as possible about what level of restrictions will apply on travel to, and from, specific countries in advance of the proposed resumption of international travel on May 17.”

On proposals for time-limited Covid status certification, Claire Walker said: “The government should waste no time in setting out concrete proposals for how Covid certification could work and the rationale behind the inclusion of some sectors and not others. With businesses already investing significant time and money into their reopening plans, they have considerable questions around the implications of such a scheme, including the practical implementation for firms and issues of employment law and liability. The Government must be crystal clear on these issues and consult with business on how any system might function.”

Commenting on plans to allow everyone to access twice weekly lateral flow tests, Claire Walker said: “We very much welcome the plan to make lateral flow testing available to every adult in England twice a week. Alongside the workplace testing strategy, this will buoy business confidence as companies start to plan for reopening and rebuilding the economy. But it is also crucial that Government makes sure that people who need to self-isolate are fully supported.”