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Yesterday, Prime Minister announced the first tentative steps to ease the UK’s coronavirus lockdown. From Wednesday we can go out to exercise as much as we like. We’ll even be able to meet a single friend outdoors, as long as we stay 2 metres apart. That said, there’s one question many of us need answering: “Can I reopen my business?”
It’s not difficult to see why many business owners are confused. On the one hand, the Prime Minister told us that people who can’t work from home are now being “actively encouraged to go back to work”. On the other hand, employees are being told to avoid public transport if possible, making it impossible for many to reach their place of employment. In addition, the government has yet to publish its intended guidance on making workplaces “Covid-secure”.
Also, as we now know that most children are highly unlikely to return to school until the autumn, large numbers of employees will have no childcare. Many won’t be able to return to the workplace, even if they want to.
Oh, and remember how last week’s press reports said that garden centres would be allowed to open this week? There was no mention in the PM’s speech. He did say that while some shops could start to re-open in June, the hospitality industry would have to wait until July at the very earliest.
Can I reopen my business?
It’s fair to say that the changes to the lockdown have caused more confusion than clarity for business owners. So how do you answer that question – “Can I reopen my business?”
The most practical thing you can do is work your way through the government’s official guidance. It is updated regularly, so keep an eye out for changes.
- First of all, check whether your business is required to stay closed. The official guidance on this is here and we also have a post on businesses that are allowed to stay open. Pubs, hotels, restaurants and a variety of other types of businesses and venues must still stay closed.
- Second, check the government guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus. This contains helpful information on social distancing on the workplace, as well as other good practice.
- Thirdly, check the sector specific guidance on social distancing in the workplace. This covers everything from logistics and waste management to manufacturing and delivery businesses.
- Finally, get advice from an employment specialist.
Until the rules about opening businesses are much clearer, we’d strongly recommend getting professional advice. Although you may be theoretically allowed to open, you need to make sure that your workplace is deemed safe. There are also questions about whether your employees can travel safely. In the absence of the government’s guidelines on making the workplace “Covid-secure” – and the fact many unions are recommending people don’t return to work until workplaces are safer. In the light of these facts, you may find that while you can reopen your business, it may not be sensible to do so.
More clarity needed
At THP, we think businesses urgently need more clarity. While yesterday’s first steps to ease the lockdown have given many of us hope, they raise more questions than they answer. We’ll be watching closely for any new guidance and will be sure to report on it here.
About Jon Pryse-Jones
Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.
An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”
Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board. “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says. He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.