Businesses want clarity before returning to work

Business groups are calling on the Government to clarify a conditional plan to ease lockdown restrictions in England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed a new COVID-19 alert system with five levels would dictate how quickly lockdown restrictions could be lifted.

In the short-term, Johnson said people who could not work from home should return to the workplace but avoid using public transport.

Workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors in England are among those being advised to return to work from 13 May 2020.

However, different approaches to coming out of the lockdown are being adopted in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said "businesses need their practical questions answered to restart, rebuild and renew".

Adam Marshall, director-general at the BCC, said:

"Businesses need to see detailed plans for the phased easing of restrictions, coordinated with all UK nations and supported by clear guidance.

"It is imperative companies have detailed advice on what needs to change in the workplace, including clarity on using personal protective equipment."

The Institute of Directors (IoD) echoed those calls for clarity on the guidance to "prevent a second spike, which would extend economic pain".

Jonathan Geldart, director-general of the IoD, said:

"Directors need to have confidence that it's safe, and if they act responsibly they won't be at undue risk.

"Businesses should consult with their people to put in place robust policies, which in many cases might not be an overnight process."

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said "businesses are keen to open and get the economy back on its feet".

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general at the CBI, said:

"Businesses know putting health first is the only sustainable route to economic recovery. The message of continued vigilance is right.

"This announcement marks the start of a long process and success will rest on clear guidance which firms can adapt for their circumstances."

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