PM's 'sketch' for a road map welcome but business needs more

Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
10th May 2020

Boris Johnson’s long-awaited state of the nation coronavirus address on television tonight gave some encouragement to business.

He said he was encouraging people who cannot work from home to return to work.

“We said you should work from home if you can and only go to work if you must.

“We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home - for instance in construction or manufacturing - should be actively encouraged to go to work.

“And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. When you do go to work, if possible, go by car or even better, by walking or bicycle.”

This message is obviously welcome, but business will be very concerned about the lack of clarity in the “rules” for this return to work.

Likewise, there will be many employees if the opinion polls are anything to go by. They are extremely wary.

Will it be too risky? is the question that many employers and employees will be asking themselves over the coming few weeks.

Boris Johnson readily admitted that this television broadcast was simply the first “sketch” for a road map for re-opening of society.

A sense of a way ahead, he said.

It certainly was not the comprehensive road map out of the lockdown we had been expecting. And as a result, business will now want so much more clarity when the prime minister addresses the Commons tomorrow and publishes what will apparently be a 40-page document with real detail.

The big message has changed from Stay at Home to Stay Alert. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland don’t like it at all and want to stick with Stay at Home.

This does not bode well for consensus in the UK at a time of national crisis. Boris must do his best to sort that out - this is no time for politicking with people’s lives and the future of our economy.

Boris says he believes Britain can come out of coronavirus stronger than ever before. That will only happen if business can be clear that there is a workable plan that is also safe for their employees.

Boris is good with Churchillian rhetoric. Now he must make it work in reality.

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