Prime minister outlines plan to reopen businesses

Prime minister Boris Johnson has outlines a four-stage plan with the intention of lifting all legal limits on social contact by June 21.

The first stage, beginning March 8, centres around the re-opening of schools and visitors for care home residents.

Beginning March 29, outdoor sports facilities will open and travel outside of local areas reintroduced.

The second stage, which should begin on April 12 dependant on the success of the first stage, will see the re-opening of non-essential retail, personal care venues, hospitality including pubs, indoor leisure including gyms and swimming pools, and self-catering accommodation.

The third stage, pencilled in for May 17, will see indoor hospitality venues and hotels open. If the first three stages are successful, legal limits will be removed on June 21 and all businesses that are still closed will be allowed to reopen.

Though the roadmap points to the start of all businesses reopening, Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, warned that not all have the reserves to make it to the summer.

He said: "Even with the Prime Minister’s new roadmap, the future of thousands of firms and millions of jobs still hangs by a thread. Many hard-hit businesses simply don’t have the cash reserves needed to hold out several more months before they are allowed to reopen.  

"Businesses will hold the Prime Minister to his pledge to support firms for the duration of the pandemic, as this gruelling marathon nears its end. Businesses have haemorrhaged billions of pounds over the past year and need action now. All the key support schemes for business should be extended – through the summer and wherever possible throughout 2021 – to ensure that as many viable firms as possible can make it to the finish line and recover."

Damian Waters, CBI North West director, added: "The roadmap is a good starting point to the hard yards ahead and caution is rightly the watchword. Businesses in the North West back the step-by-step approach to re-opening and an end to damaging stop-start restrictions. And getting children back into the classroom first is as much a priority for business as it is for families across the country.

“We now need to turn this roadmap into genuine economic momentum. The Budget is the second half of this announcement – extending business support in parallel to restrictions will give firms a bridge to the other side. This is particularly needed for sectors who will have to wait for up to three months to re-open and have an anxious 10 days ahead before the Budget."

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