The CBI has devised a six-point plan for "instilling confidence among businesses, their employees and customers in order to reopen successfully and learn to live with the [COVID] virus".
The business membership and representative organisation, which speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses that together employ almost seven million people, believes that maintaining momentum is critical if the UK is to build on encouraging recent economic results that showed GDP growth of 0.8% in May, largely thanks to reviving fortunes in the hospitality sector.
CBI director general, Tony Danker said: "Learning to live and work with the virus is the right strategy. But we need to ensure this is a confident not an anxious transition, otherwise it won't work. Businesses have had a real boost this week with the Prime Minister's plans for the final stage of the reopening. What's needed now is a concerted effort between business and government to create widespread confidence from the get-go."
Danker called for urgent government guidance under three categories: setting out what business should do; providing evidence on the effectiveness of interventions to help firms reach their own decisions; and sharing good practice.
Detailing its six-point plan, the CBI called for the use of "all means" to reduce staff shortages caused by self-isolation. The CBI believes that confidence in the current isolation system could be boosted by making it more agile and responsive. It also wants the government to explain the future of workplace testing and continue to provide funding for workplace testing beyond the end of July, with the pilot of DCT (daily contact testing) also to carry on beyond the end of July.
To enable workers and customers to feel more confident, the CBI also wants the wearing of facemasks on public transport to be kept under review rather than relaxed.
The CBI also urged the government to provide clear guidance for businesses - especially small businesses - on their roles and responsibilities as regards such things as "adhering to the government's self-isolation policy", "conducting a risk assessment following any changes impacting on health and safety", "consulting with employees or their representatives on matters of health and safety" and "adhering to protections against discrimination".
The CBI called for the Health and Safety Executive to provide assistance to UK businesses wanting to conduct risk assessments into their work environment and making proportionate interventions where necessary to protect staff and customers. The CBI believes that businesses could also benefit greatly from sharing examples of good practice when overcoming a broad range of COVID-related challenges.
Written by Mark Williams.