Commenting on the Prime Minister’s speech today (17 July), setting out the next steps in England’s Coronavirus response, BCC Director General Adam Marshall said:

On new guidance for returning to the workplace:

“Companies, in discussion with their employees, will decide how and when to return to offices safely. To take those decisions, businesses need crystal-clear official guidance.

“Firms will be weighing up how they want to work in future. Many have seen benefits to productivity and work-life balance over recent months, and will want to keep elements of their new normal. For many employees, returning to the workplace is contingent on schools reopening, the availability of wraparound care and the capacity of public transport.

“Businesses should be able to offset the investments they make to ensure their premises are Covid-secure against their tax bill, which would help many to return to workplaces over the coming months.”

On the conditional timetable for reopening the economy:

“Businesses that have so far been unable to open will be pleased to finally have a timetable for reopening so they can plan ahead.  Government must consider what further support they can offer to firms that will need to remain closed into the autumn, beyond the end-date for government support schemes and many businesses’ cash reserves.”

On a new testing target of 500,000 per day:

“Business will welcome an increased target for testing as we move into a new phase of managing the pandemic.

“Only a truly comprehensive test and trace system that works across the UK will boost business, staff and consumer confidence, which is the key to securing our economic recovery.”