Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined details for the final stage of lifting the remaining coronavirus restrictions in England.
The Government is still anticipating all restrictions to finish on July 19, subject to a final review of the data next week.
That will include an end to social distancing and no limits on social gatherings – indoors and outdoors – while facemasks will no longer be mandatory.
Weddings, funerals and other life events will also be able to take place without limits or restrictions.
While the unlocking is welcome news for businesses across the UK, Stuart Elford, Chair of British Chambers of Commerce South West (BCCSW) – the regional affiliation of accredited county chambers in the South West – says the Government still needs to clarify certain points to allow for businesses to plan ahead accordingly.
Stuart said: “While the Prime Minister’s announcement is a much-needed step on the road to normality, businesses still do not have the full picture they desperately need to plan for fully unlocking.
“Obviously, the ending of coronavirus restrictions will have a hugely positive impact, particularly here in the South West where the leisure, hospitality and tourism industry is so crucial to our local economy.
“However, the rules on self-isolation are still unclear, and businesses still have no information if testing will remain free for them, or when international travel will open up effectively.
“Without clear guidance from the Government around these new proposals, there is likely to be huge uncertainty on how businesses should operate going forward and what they should do to ensure the safety of the staff and customers alike.
“As the Prime Minister has already said, we have got to make sure that the next step is irreversible – a move which is welcomed by businesses across the country.
“But research shows that almost two in five businesses cite concerns about possible future lockdowns as a barrier to restarting or returning to pre-pandemic levels. This figure rises to 50% for business-to-consumer facing firms such as hospitality and retail.
“If firms are going to have the confidence to fully reopen, then the Government must set out contingency plans for any future virus response, and how it plans to support businesses should that happen.”