At the end of July we saw the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, make a last-minute announcement on Twitter of new local lockdown impositions, which were due to come into force less than three hours after his tweet had been posted online. The way in which the Government announced the local lockdown, which applied to areas such as Greater Manchester and East Lancashire, attracted significant criticism, with critics astounded at how last-minute the announcement was. Many also berated the Government for imposing the local lockdowns the night before Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest celebrations in the Islamic calendar.
In an attempt to prevent further last-minute announcements and public confusion, the CBI have last week put together a 6-point action plan, encompassing steps businesses want the Government to take to minimise surprises where future local lockdowns are necessary.
The CBI’s 6-point action plan:
- Increasing the visibility and awareness of the data trigger points used in decision-making. This will help local communities and businesses prepare accordingly.
- Ensuring decisions are communicated at the right time, to the right people. This includes actions such as making announcements during the working day to allow businesses to engage with their workforces quickly.
- Clarity of message. Say what people can do as well as changes to what they can’t do. This includes clarifying what the local lockdown means for different sectors, publishing maps, and providing guidance to those based in and around the outskirts of a lockdown area.
- Communicating who is in charge of the lockdown and have a “go to” person for businesses. The CBI comment that “people and businesses will want to be clear who is ultimately responsible” so that they can both access and provide information.
- Stepping up test and trace efforts – to help lessen the likelihood of local outbreaks and thus local lockdowns occurring in future.
- Establishing a framework for business support, which recognises that local lockdowns will impact local economies differently. This includes a clear system to channel funds through Local Authorities quickly and making support easily accessible to local businesses.
The hope is that the plan, if adopted, will ease the economic consequences of local lockdowns by helping the businesses and communities affected feel more confident about successfully navigating increased restrictions.