News

07 Jul 2021

Bira CEO shares his advice for retailers ahead of 'Freedom Day'

Bira's CEO Andrew Goodacre is looking ahead to July 19, when almost all Covid restrictions are expected to be lifted in England.

Here, he shares his advice to independent retailers.

"Covid restrictions will be removed on July 19. Something we should be cheering has caused some concerns because restrictions are being lifted when cases are high," he said.

"The removal of restrictions at this moment in time feels counter-intuitive and this explains the uncertainty and apprehension – both for retailers and shoppers.

 

"The issue of face coverings seems to be causing the most discussion. Firstly, you need to remember that face coverings for customers will not be legally required after July 19. You may still retain the posters reminding people, but we suspect that many more customers will not wear them. With this in mind, you then need to decide on the policy for your employees – and you may wish to consider flexibility in this respect, especially if the employee is more vulnerable. 

"We do have two weeks to prepare for these changes and we recommend you do the following:

  1. Review you risk assessment - this may well need readjusting in light of the changes. Read about risk assessments here
  2. Speak to your employees – how do they feel about the changes, especially the removal of face masks? You may need to have a flexible approach with your people
  3. Whilst restriction are being removed, you do not need to remove Perspex, signage etc. We would also encourage you to offer hand sanitisation as an option
  4. Your business can return to normal – no restrictions on numbers in a shop, no restrictions on fitting rooms, deliveries, etc.. Again however, please discuss this with your people

"I do not doubt there will be lots of questions and we will update guidance as and when we receive it. We should remember that the vaccine rollout has been successful by substantially reducing the risk of severe illness from Covid, and this has given the Government the confidence to remove restrictions, despite the high number of cases."

He added: "Bira has also been campaigning on the issue of self-isolation and the impact this is having on businesses. With more cases, we are seeing more people being asked to self isolate as a result of being a close contact. We already know of businesses being forced to close due to lack of staff. We do not believe that the announcement about fully vaccinated not needing to self-isolate (unless positive) after August 16 will be too little, too late. We are asking the Government to review this timescale because with all restrictions being lifted on July 19, we could see many more people subject to self-isolation for no good reason. We are also asking for more financial support for those businesses forced to close due to the impact of self-isolation.

"There is no doubt we are making the right steps but we need to ensure that businesses receive the right support if the economic recovery is to be retained." More about that here

We'd love to hear your thoughts, experiences or any questions on Freedom Day, call our membership team on 0800 028 0245

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