Lockdown review

Allow ‘ready and able’ firms to resume work, says CBI

Tracy Black

Tracy Black: businesses should be encouraged to return (pic: Terry Murden)

Businesses that are ‘ready and able’ to meet social distancing guidelines should be allowed to return to work, says the CBI.

After First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said restrictions would remain in place for some time, CBI Scotland director Tracy Black said a phased return would help protect jobs and the economy.

The First Minister unveiled a framework for exiting the coronavirus lockdown, but said restrictions were likely to last until the end of this year and probably for longer.

Businesses acknowledged the need to put public health first, but also said measures are already being exercised by some companies to protect employees.

Ms Black said the CBI “recognises that the lifting of lockdown must be phased and put public health first, but where firms are ready and able to meet social distancing requirements, they should be encouraged to return to operations to protect jobs and the economy.

“Supporting businesses to prepare for a ‘new normal’ is welcome and will allow many SMEs to re-open their doors and help re-start the economy.

We are now confident that we have clear plans and processes in place

Pete Redfern, Taylor Wimpey

“The UK and Scottish governments must work in lockstep to ensure the lifting of restrictions is done in an effective and coordinated manner, while listening to and acting on evidence provided by businesses to inform decisions and timetables.”

Her comments came as house builder Taylor Wimpey said it was planning to resume work on some sites on 4 May, though only in England and Wales as Scotland has banned work on all non-essential construction sites.

The company’s chief executive Pete Redfern said: “We are now confident that we have clear plans and processes in place so we can safely start back on site in a phased way beginning on 4 May.”

Trade union Unite Scotland has demanded that all non-essential construction sites remain closed in Scotland to keep construction workers and their families safe. Unite has repeated its call following a virtual meeting involving its leading construction representatives across Scotland.

The union said it has been inundated with reports of construction work continuing at non-essential sites and workers having to use public transport or shared transport in order to comply with employer requests or face losing wages. 

Aston Martin Lagonda also plans to resume work at its new plant in South Wales.

David Lonsdale

David Lonsdale; ‘retailers will be ready;’ (pic: Terry Murden)

The company announced that it will resume operations at its St Athan facility, following guidelines from Public Health Wales and Public Health England to protect its workforce.

It said it will take “learnings in terms of health and safety” into account when it reopens its main car plant in Gaydon, Warwickshire, at a later date.

Jaguar Land Rover said it would resume production gradually at its factory at Solihull and at its engine manufacturing plant in Wolverhampton from 18 May. It will also reopen its facilities in Slovakia and Austria.

DIY chain B&Q has confirmed it has now reopened 155 of its UK stores as lockdown measures remain in place. After a trial at 14 stores at the weekend, 61 outlets reopened on Wednesday and another 80 on Thursday.

B&Q has introduced “social distancing controls”, such as capping the number of customers in-store.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Many of our members in pharmacy and grocery are already operating safely and responsibly in this new environment, investing significantly in social distancing and other health and hygiene measures and adhering to government advice in order to protect staff and customers. 

“When the time is right, retailers will be ready to safely reopen and help get the economy moving again.”

Scottish Conservatives leader Jackson Carlaw said a phased return for non-essential services, enabling thousands to return to work, should be considered.

Ms Sturgeon said today that restrictions would remain in place for some time as she unveiled a framework for exiting the coronavirus lockdown.

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon: ‘starting a discussion’

It did not include a date for lifting the social distancing measures, but aimed to “start a grown-up conversation” around balancing the need for measures to stop the spread of the virus with a widespread desire to return to “a level” of normal life.

She said restrictions were likely to last until the end of this year and probably for longer.

“A return to normal as we knew it is not on the cards in the near future,” she said in her daily briefing.

“Big gatherings and events are likely to be off for some months to come.”

She said it is likely some form of shielding will be required for the old and vulnerable and said ideas being looked at for schools included dividing pupils into small groups and attending on alternate weeks.

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