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Firms in the dark on future Coronavirus restrictions - BCC calls for clarity from Government

The British Chambers of Commerce has called on the UK Government to publish its approach to national Coronavirus restrictions in England without delay, providing firms with:

  • At least one week’s notice ahead of the end of lockdown on December 2
  • Scientific evidence for any continuing restrictions on specific business sectors
  • An economic impact assessment of the impact of continued business restrictions and closures on communities and the wider economy

The BCC said it was concerned by the lack of detail or clarity and called on the Government to publish its plans at least a week before December 2 to give firms adequate time to prepare to re-open and trade.

The BCC is also pressing Government to explain clearly why businesses in a number of sectors have been forced to close despite taking considerable steps at huge expense to comply with COVID-secure guidance, including leisure, non-essential retail and beauty.

It has submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to determine what evidence base, if any, was used to inform government guidance on the closure of businesses in England from November 5. The BCC said clarity was essential for businesses and Government to work together on steps that avoid the need for business closures in future.

It comes after the BCC’s challenge to the Prime Minister to meet five business tests to limit the impact of Coronavirus restrictions on businesses and jobs and take a long-term approach to tackling the pandemic.

BCC Director General Adam Marshall said: “Nine months into the pandemic, business communities are still crying out for timely information and a clear strategy from Government so that they can survive and rebuild.

“Delays and imprecision mean people lose their livelihoods. Firms are taking difficult decisions every day about their futures, and are tired of being left to rely on speculation and rumour. The Government must urgently set out the exit plan for the end of national restrictions in England on 2nd December – and make it crystal-clear which businesses can operate and under what conditions.

“Businesses have played their part by working hard and spending hundreds of millions of pounds to become COVID-secure, in line with official guidance. We must see the evidence for why many were forced to close again on 5th November, and absolute transparency on what may happen from December 2.

“Business communities – whether in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland – cannot take another year of rushed stop-start restrictions from governments while vaccines are rolled out. Broad-based workplace testing would help bridge the gap, maintaining employee confidence and helping as many businesses as possible remain open and trading at this crucial time.”

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