Hello and welcome to my August column. I hope this finds you well and enjoying the summer. This month I’d like to reflect on the opening up of the economy now that Freedom Day has taken place – albeit it felt very different to the huge celebratory day Boris originally talked about. With infection rates rapidly rising, Freedom Day wasn’t the big mask-tearing off celebration Boris was talking about a few weeks ago. In fact we’ve seen a huge shift in the approach from Government in recent weeks with the message changing in several areas.
The ‘everyone back to the office’ call has been diluted and businesses are now encouraged to think about bringing staff back – as opposed to the big return Boris was originally talking about. The ‘irreversible’ Freedom Day relaxations also do not seem to be irreversible and many businesses we speak to have real concerns as we look to the future. We recently undertook a snap survey with over 50 businesses attending an event and the results highlighted the nervousness many are feeling.
- 71 per cent of people would rather not shake hands/have physical contact at business events at this time. Eighteen per cent were relaxed about it and 11 per cent were undecided.
- 28 per cent thought the government was right to relax requirements such as face masks and social distancing but 56 per cent thought it was the wrong time.
- 78 per cent thought there was inadequate guidance for businesses regarding Freedom Day.
- 62 per cent are concerned about the possibility of future restriction being introduced after Freedom Day.
We are of course very keen to see all businesses open up after what has been a truly dreadful time, particularly for those businesses that have been mandated to close. But common sense is absolutely vital within this and we believe a sensible and cautious approach is required. Infection rates are surging and we are now facing the ‘pingdemic’ as the app tells people they need to self-isolate. We are already hearing about businesses that are having to temporarily close due to staff having to isolate – add this to the huge challenges businesses are facing in terms of recruitment – it’s clear our road to recovery will be a long one.
One service that has been vital during the pandemic and is there to benefit and support all businesses across Dorset is the Business Gateway service. Funded by Dorset LEP and delivered by Dorset Chamber, this is a free information, advice and signposting service, open to all businesses in Dorset. You can call for advice on support for your business and this service helps businesses navigate the complexities of publicly-funded business support. Whether it’s information on grants, loans or advice for your business, we can help. Call 01202 714800 and select Business Gateway.
Until next time
By: Ian Girling Connect on LinkedIn