4:52 PM 19th January 2022
Business Is Desperate To Get Back To Some Degree Of Normality
Responding to the announcement today that the Government plans to remove Covid-19 Plan B measures from Thursday 27th January, business organisations said:
Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said: “News of the end of work from home guidance will be welcomed by business, particularly those based in city and town centres which rely on footfall from office workers. The removal of the requirement for vaccine passports will also be positive for our members in the events sector and night-time economy.
“With infection rates still high, many firms are experiencing significant staff absences and will be cautious about teams rushing back to the office when that could result in further absences.
“As we move forward, businesses will now want to know what the Government’s longer-term contingency plans are to support firms should a new variant create a fresh wave of serious infections and require restrictions.
“Confusion and loss of confidence was experienced at the onset of Plan B when no accompanying support was announced. Although a financial package was subsequently provided by the Treasury, being clear on what support will accompany which restrictions ahead of time is the best way to maintain business confidence.
“Maintenance of testing capacity must also be a priority for Government, with reports still reaching us of firms unable to access rapid testing at times when they need it. This supply must remain consistent to maintain consumer confidence and avoid unnecessary absences.
“As we move out of restrictions, Government must make positive interventions to power forward our economic recovery, by making strides on key issues such as growing our export base and levelling up local economies.”
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief Policy Director, said:
“It’s great news that Plan B is coming to an end and businesses will be hopeful that we are finally starting to turn the corner on Covid-19.
“There’s a vital need now for greater consistency in how we live with the virus in the longer term. Swinging back and forth between restrictions and normality has been damaging.
“The Government must start to prioritise Covid infrastructure over interventions. That means relying more on free testing, vaccines and anti-virals.
“There’s also still a job to be done on repairing confidence and demand. Omicron has pushed back the recovery for some key sectors, like international travel and hospitality. The focus now must be on how we can grow the economy and stimulate investment.”
“Hybrid working is here to stay, with firms that can already seeking a balanced approach to home and office working.
“But there are clear benefits to being in the office, such as collaboration and on-the-job learning, and blanket work-from-home guidance has had significant downsides for city centre trade in sectors such as hospitality and retail.” IoD: Business is desperate to get back to some degree of normality
Dr Roger Barker, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors, said:
“After almost two years of restrictions associated with the pandemic, businesses are desperate to get back to some degree of normality as soon as is feasible.
“This is an economy that wants to grow and the lifting of these restrictions is a welcome step to helping that to happen. However, we should not underestimate the scale of the challenges facing the economy in the coming months, not least the impact that national insurance rises will have on jobs and the cost of living crisis.”
Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at free market think tank Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
“Plan B restrictions cannot be abolished a moment too soon. Vaccine passports have never worked anywhere and face masks are largely theatrical.
"As heavily restricted Europe continues to struggle with the virus, England has a falling infection rate and should see good economic growth from February onwards.
"Omicron was a major bump in the road, but England's strategy of opening up in summer and rolling out boosters in the autumn has been vindicated.”