Opening doors again far from easy for business

Restrictions will remain in place and prove a headache for many company managers

Businesses face a number of issues when they reopen. Photograph:  Getty Images

Businesses face a number of issues when they reopen. Photograph: Getty Images

 

We are probably at least a few weeks away from any of the businesses that have closed because of Government Covid-19 restrictions being able to reopen. And employers are probably still focusing more on survival than on what happens when they can get back to business.

But companies reopening their doors and welcoming staff back will face new considerations and responsibilities – both to their staff and, if they have a public premises, to their customers.

There will be a minefield to walk through. Just think of a few issues. Will new cleaning policies be needed and what protections are needed for staff undertaking these? Will all employees be allowed to return immediately to work, even if they are over 70 or have underlying health conditions?

Not easy

In some businesses some employees will be able to continue working from home, but not all. In all businesses social distancing will be essential – and in some manufacturing and construction setting maintaining the full two-metre distance will not be easy.

Then there are companies that have public officers, or shops. Most will have to replicate the efforts now being made by groceries and pharmacists – limiting the numbers entering, ensuring spacing in queues inside an outside and rigorous cleaning,

A major German report for the Ifo Institute considered a lot of the issues. It pointed out that in a modern EU economy the Government can lay down the rules, but it will be up to employers to bring them in. It is simply not possible to have widescale enforcement.

And then there is perhaps the trickiest issue. In some cases employees will be sick, or will be isolating as they will have had contact with someone who had the virus. Strict protocols will be needed to ensure that anyone feeling sick goes home and it is essential that they can be quickly tested. If this is positive, their contacts will have to go home and isolate.

You can see how running a business just got a heck of a lot more complicated. And that is before you consider that many companies will return to face demand and revenues well below where they were when they closed their doors.

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