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East Midlands Chamber News

End of social distancing and capacity restrictions will be a ‘huge boost for businesses’, says East Midlands Chamber – but open border required for full recovery

Responding to the Prime Minister’s confirmation that the majority of remaining Covid restrictions would be lifted should stage four of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown commence on 19 July, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister will spread a feeling of cautious relief among businesses, who will view this as a huge boost to their prospects of managing a full recovery.

“This news builds on the positive sentiment we’ve detected in the East Midlands. In our latest Quarterly Economic Survey for Q2 2021, our State of the Economy Index – a measure of the region’s economic health compiled by aggregating various indicators – reached its highest score since Q3 2018 as the steady recovery was replaced with big growth expectations.

“Building on the success of the vaccine rollout, the sentiment of personal responsibility informed by the Prime Minister this afternoon in how we go about our daily lives in future will allow businesses to plan as they see fit, which in turn will create an even greater sense of confidence.

“While the hospitality industry is enjoying a great summer bounce back, it has still been severely held back by capacity limits that have also affected the leisure and events industries.

“So there will now be a lot of excitement in the countdown to 19 July, when we sincerely hope the Government will indeed go ahead with stage four of its roadmap to reopening our economy and lift almost all the remaining restrictions.

“Dropping homeworking guidance for office-based businesses is another important step in our return to normality. While we expect the future of work to be a hybrid between the office and home where this is possible for some, the majority of businesses we represent have told us the office will remain a key part of their organisations – especially for younger employees who benefit from working alongside more senior colleagues and have perhaps felt more socially isolated during the pandemic.

“However, the tough border controls that the Government continues to pursue are a concern, particularly as the travel industry has received no bespoke support during the entire pandemic. Open borders are critical to our country and region realising its potential in a post-Covid and post-Brexit era, so we are eager to understand what its long-term plan is to fully reopen international travel.”