CBI calls for 'no surprises’ approach to local lockdowns
The Confederation of British Industry has issued a plan to help businesses through local lockdowns if they are introduced in the West Midlands.
The aim is to build confidence for those businesses, local authorities and communities affected, if areas in the region come under new temporary restrictions.
The regional CBI wants to see the visibility and awareness of the data trigger points used in decision making made more visible so businesses have a better understanding of which figures will be used consistently to both impose and lift restrictions.
It also wants to be assured that decisions are communicated at the right time and to the right people and says timing announcements – as far as possible – during working hours could minimise confusion and allow employers to engage with their staff quickly.
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The CBI also urges clarity of messages to say what people can do as well as changes to what they can’t do. It want to be clear what changes mean for business, transport operators, schools and others and for maps to be published and explanation of what it means for people who live, work and go to school in and around the outskirts of any lockdown area.
There is also a call for communicating who is in charge of the lockdown and having a “go to” person for businesses to both access and provide information.
The organisation also urges the stepping up of test and trace efforts to help affected areas to minimise disruption.
It also wants to see a framework for business support established, which recognises that local lockdowns will impact local economies differently and provides improved support for businesses and people where staff absences are due to following self-isolation rules; a clear mechanism for channelling funding quickly via local authorities and ensuring any support is made easily accessible to local firms.
Richard Butler, CBI West Midlands regional director, said: “Businesses know that if infection rates spike in an area then new local lockdowns may well be required to protect public health. That’s why they’re working so hard to follow the Government guidance, keeping their workplaces, offices, pubs and shops, safe and Covid-secure for staff and customers.
“Local lockdowns are a crucial piece of the puzzle in how we manage the risk of infection and reopening the economy safely, so we must get good at them.
“The Government rightly needs to act fast on new information, so there will be limited notice, but we must aim for a ‘no surprises’ approach as far as possible. It would be fair to say that the local business reaction has been mixed at best on how they have gone so far.
“Not all restrictions are one-size-fits-all, as we have seen from the full lockdown in Leicester and the household-based restrictions in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and elsewhere.
“Each will have their own impact on businesses directly and indirectly, so we must get the building blocks in place to protect jobs, as well as lives.
“We are learning all the time, and now have more tools in our armoury to combat infection risks. But at the same time business resilience is lower than it has ever been, with cash and stockpiles run down. So we must get this right.”