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Letter to Chancellor

Ministers urged to plan roadmap out of lockdown

shop closed in Covid

Businesses want planning to start now (pic: Terry Murden)

The CBI will today take the first steps in urging government ministers to work with business on a roadmap out of lockdown.

Director general Tony Danker has written to UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng saying this is the time to plan for a reopening of the economy when government gives the all-clear.

The CBI will be writing to the governments of the devolved nations this week calling for a similar joint plan.

It has identified at least six elements it says will help firms plan and prepare in advance of a lifting of restrictions:

– Confirming once more what will be considered low, medium or high-risk economic activity, so that businesses can understand what will open sooner or later.

– Deciding whether or not there will be a return to tiering, as part of a gradual re-opening. And if so, what will now be permitted under each tier as more people become vaccinated.

– Identifying and understanding the conditions that need to be met before rolling back certain restrictions, and ultimately the need for social distancing.

– Outlining how the vaccine will be deployed once the most vulnerable groups are inoculated, to reach the Government’s target of all UK adults being offered a vaccine by Autumn.

– Thinking how regular mass rapid testing in the community and workplaces could allow a wider, speedier reopening of the economy. It would set out what additional freedoms it might permit individuals and firms that commit to regular testing, as well as address the duration of asymptomatic testing so that workplaces and society are resilient to any new strains of the virus in the medium to long term.

– Creating bespoke, detailed plans for the harder to open sectors of the economy, such as testing regimes for international travel, or the conditions for activities such as hospitality and live events to return.

Running alongside the roadmap the CBI says there must be clear parameters for determining what, and for how long, economic support measures remain in place.

It says the plans should develop in lockstep, to ensure that key support measures taper away, without a cliff-edge, ensuring that support is progressively targeted on those sectors that remain closed for longest.

Tony Danker

Tony Danker: ‘common framework’

Mr Danker says: “The Prime Minister has set out the initial parameters for reopening as a country, which was a big help for businesses.

“Clearly, the precise dates will be determined by data, so let’s use this time wisely to get the roadmap right together for when lockdown ends.

“There is huge appetite among businesses to help the Government create and deliver a roadmap out of lockdown that lasts, has national consensus and kickstarts our economic recovery as 2021 unfolds.

“A common framework with devolved administrations must also be possible and help to minimise differences in approach.

“Businesses are currently completely in the dark when planning for the weeks and months ahead and this is hindering investment. We can provide more clarity and do the prep work now to enable them to plan for reopening and growth.  

“It’s clear that we will be entering a new normal even post-vaccination. We will have new workplace, testing and economic realities to live with.

“We’ve all learnt a lot in 2020 about what reopening looks like so let’s move now to a plan for 2021 that is detailed, practical and instils confidence.”

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