eacting to the Health Secretary’s statement in the House of Commons, Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director of the BCC, said:
“Businesses in England will be encouraged that the government still hope to proceed with the next stage of unlocking on July 19.
“Firms understand the need for the cautious approach and to focus on increasing vaccinations. But beyond the hopeful words, companies are still crying out for more detailed guidance that finally gives them some certainty about what the future holds.
“So much remains in the balance, firms still do not have a 100% guarantee that the 19 July reopening will go ahead, nor do they know if, and when, social distancing guidelines might change, if the test and trace system will remain free for them, or when international travel will open up effectively.
“All of this creates a huge logistical headache and there remains a very real risk of damage to business confidence”.
On the need for continued financial support for businesses, Walker said:
“With so much uncertainty remaining it is critical the government extends business support, including grants to firms in those areas worst affected and delaying the tapering of the furlough scheme.
“Many firms are still struggling with the damage done to their cashflow and revenue by the pandemic, they will need time to get back on their feet, with the security of knowing Government will continue to support them.
On the need for clarity, Walker added:
“The Secretary of State for Health has said he does not want to take any backward steps as we emerge from the pandemic and firms welcome this. But our research shows that almost two in five businesses cite concerns about possible future lockdowns as a barrier to restarting or returning to pre-pandemic levels. This rises to 50% for business-to-consumer facing firms such as hospitality and retail.
“We know sectors such as hospitality, catering and events have been particularly badly hit. They are desperate to fully re-open and play their part in powering the economic recovery. To do this, the Government must be as clear as possible on the detail of when and how it plans to allow our businesses to operate.”