“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.”
“While the lifting of restrictions will undoubtedly be a boost for the region’s businesses, especially those in the particularly beleaguered hospitality and entertainment sectors, given how many operators have been mothballed for so long, a great many will effectively be reopening as start-ups, meaning they are at a higher risk of failure and will have to work doubly hard to re-establish themselves.
“This means planning for the medium term to ensure they have the right safety protocols and procedures in place to attract customers beyond the initial phase of reopening. It also very much remains to be seen just how confident consumers will be in attending hospitality venues as we enter autumn, when some restrictions may be needed once more.”
“When and how to lift restrictions is a difficult decision, and there will be arguments on both sides. Wearing my other hat though, as a sports commentator, motor racing hasn’t been the same without spectators, and with limited numbers allowed to attend. So I am really looking forward to that getting back to normal, for the sport, the commerce of circuits etc, and the atmosphere we love.”
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.”