Chris Fletcher, Policy, Campaigns and Communications Director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, looks at the Prime Minister's statement about how the lockdown will be relaxed.
The Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday tried to pack an awful lot in and much of that was without any real substance.
The advice to go back to work where you can was immediately countered with rules around how you should get there – avoid public transport - and, more importantly, what guidelines would be waiting for you if you got there. With safe distancing a key fundamental behind all we have been through in the last seven weeks it will naturally be a core part of all workplace safety requirements for the future. But where was the guidance on Sunday night? Still awaiting publication 24 hours later. Not a great communication strategy.
And that’s the issue, the ire of many was not about the content so much as the manner of delivery, the lack of available detail and the timing. I’m sure there were many employees and employers that went to bed on Sunday with no idea whatsoever what they should do on Monday. That just isn’t right.
Business, indeed real life doesn’t work like that at the best of times and in the current situation even less so.
So where are we and what comes next?
On Monday we had the release of the official government document “Our Plan to Rebuild” which laid out the phases and stages for personal safety, workplace guidance and a range of other issues which will need to be addressed over the next two to three months. Further guidance will also be released about more specific workplace guidance including the role of Health and Safety assessments in all workplaces around new safe distancing measures.
Contrary to popular belief there are a huge number of businesses that have kept their work places open, albeit with reduced workforces. And of course for those working at home we are still productive as well – I’m still working sat at the dining table writing this so yes we should challenge some of the commentary around the economy having shut down.
However some sectors such as hospitality will remain closed for a few months yet (and they have to have the support for this), but for those businesses that have carried on the big issue for them is having to retrofit new guidelines into the workplace to make sure they are compliant with whatever new rules come out.
We are at the start of this and whilst health issues remain top priority over the coming months the challenges of getting the economy back on track will be huge.
One thing is for sure the view of business will be vital to help guide the path to recovery and we will need your help.
To have your say and help influence the recovery, click here.
The “Our Plan to Rebuild” document can be found here.