Responding to the news that phase 2 of the roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead for England on April 12, 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 theidoors to customersThe last year has taken a heavy toll on firms across the country 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 metand many more firms asking questions, yet to be answered, about when they can open at full capacity or with fewer restrictions.

The latest BCC Quarterly Economic Survey has shown that businesses are becoming more optimistic about the futureBut 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 oInternational Travel, 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, 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, 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.”