Shropshire Chamber of Commerce says local companies will be ‘breathing a huge sigh of relief’ at news that the full reopening of the economy is to go ahead next week.

But chief executive Richard Sheehan said it was vital that businesses received clear and detailed guidance to ensure they will be doing everything to keep staff and customers safe from July 19.

“This is the news that companies have been waiting for, to give them some certainty – albeit against a backdrop of common sense and caution,” he said.

“But we must remember that business owners are not public health experts, and need clear advice which is not confusing, or contradictory.

“The last thing we want to see next week is an inconsistent approach with different businesses reopening at different times, and with different interpretations of the regulations.

“Not only could this damage public confidence, it could also present Shropshire’s business community with huge logistical headaches.”

Businesses are being told to make their own judgements on which Covid-secure measures to keep, and which they can now ditch, from next Monday.

Mr Sheehan said: “They can’t do this alone, though, and will need clarity and support from the Government in areas such as employment law, health and safety requirements, and liability. 

“For example, what if a Shropshire business removes some, or all Covid safety measures, and then finds a large outbreak is linked to their premises? These are some of the areas where clarity is essential.”

The British Chambers of Commerce says it is already seeing issues for businesses related to staff having to self-isolate, with some members struggling to stay open as a result.   

It says: “Instances of self-isolation will almost certainly continue to rise between now and the change set for August 16, so firms need to know if there are any plans to help them cope in the intervening period.”  

Mr Sheehan believes many Shropshire businesses are likely to take a cautious approach to relaxing all the rules, particularly with so many businesses already experiencing staff shortages, due to employees contracting Covid or being forced to self-isolate.

“It is clear from the dialogue we are having with our members that many businesses are planning to keep at least some staff working remotely for the next year. But the capability to do this varies greatly across business types, so it won’t be an option for everyone.”