Watch the webinar
- Matthew Fell, Chief UK Policy Director, CBI
- Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive, UK Hospitality
- Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium
- Liz Moseley, Editor and Partner, Tortoise Media (Chair)
- Matthew kicked off the webinar with an update on testing – with the employer deadline to register for free workplace and at-home testing extended until the 12 April. Matthew also outlined the CBI’s response to the Government’s roadmap reviews:
- On the Global Travel Taskforce: we submitted evidence highlighting importance on international travel on access to global markets rand inbound travel. Have pressed for a risk-based approach and really good comms and notice periods – no last-minute dashes for the borders.
- On covid-status certification – mixed views from businesses. Some see it as a way of building confidence in staff and consumers, and others who are very sceptical. Stressed it should be time limited, once everyone has been offered the vaccine and should be either/or a vaccine or via test. Legal minefield for reputation, employee relations etc, so we need clear legal guidance.
- Finally, on social distancing guidance – still some confusion from firms on plans regarding to returning to offices as Government has dropped ‘stay at home’ messaging while continuing with ‘work from home’.
- Kate Nicholls – still seven weeks away from effective reopening date with indoor hospitality (bulk of the industry), and still 12 weeks away for night-time economy, concert venues, biz and conference, weddings (21 June) which have been closed since March 2020. 60% hospitality businesses have no outdoor space so not anticipating massive reopening on 12 April. A ‘soft’ re-opening not an ‘economic’ re-opening. Last year we lost 12,000 businesses - may be brought back with new entrepreneurs and many more businesses emerging heavily indebted. 42 hospitality businesses were closing a day at the start of this year.
- Helen Dickinson – different story for retail than hospitality from 12 April. Every single retail business that Helen speaks to says they are desperate to open, if they can do so tomorrow they would and want to be part of the economic recovery and have invested in relevant safety measures.
- On supply chains – ongoing impacts of Brexit and Suez Canal blockage – retailers used to dealing with ups and downs across the supply chains but in combination with the pandemic – shouldn’t underestimate these challenges.
- Kate, reflecting on covid status certification for hospitality, said it was a challenging issue. In a consumer facing environment there are legal concerns, equality issues, and moral issues. Frontline staff who potentially have to deal with these issues, usually 18-24 years old which puts them in a difficult position. Can see benefits in global travel and tourism, and live/major events etc but not necessary or proportionate in hospitality/ retail for short amount of time and often spontaneously. Hygiene and sanitation measures should be sufficient. Vaccine should be the means to an end and we shouldn't remove social distancing controls in place of covid status certificates.
- Helen – emphasised the challenges Kate mentioned around enforcement. Seeing that with mask-wearing already with increases in the levels of violence and abuse against people on the frontline e.g., delivery drivers, super marketing workers. Pre covid 400 incidents a day, that has increased exponentially. More responsibilities mean you're putting frontline workers in difficult situations which is not fair.
- All panellists reiterated that Government need to make rules clear. Current messaging seems to suggest that all restrictions will be dropped by 21 June but this is not likely in all venues. Need consistency and simplicity in the rules.