Business groups cautious on easing of lockdown restrictions

Businesses groups have given a cautious response to the easing of lockdown restrictions in England announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week.

Josh Hardie, Deputy Director General at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: 'Businesses know the return to offices must not risk an infection spike. Firms can be knocked down once, not twice. This announcement marks a welcome change in tone, but changing behaviour and confidence will take time.

'Close collaboration between government, employers and unions – alongside excellent employee engagement and continued improvements in childcare, transport and testing – will be the building blocks for success.'

Edwin Morgan, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: 'Businesses need to balance the risks and won't want to increase the possibility of closures down the line by rushing back.

'On top of this, not everything is in a company's control. Childcare is an issue for many employees, and even if the guidance is changed, some staff who use public transport will still be concerned.'

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: 'Small firms are being tasked with consulting employees and putting the right measures in place to ensure a safe return to work. After weeks of little or no income, they will need help – both funding and advice – to make that happen. Small businesses want to do the right thing and need support to do so.

'The Prime Minister should also recognise that, while most small businesses have been helped by emergency measures, many have not. We need to know how company directors and the newly self-employed, left stranded for more than 100 days, will be supported in future.'

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