As we wait for more detail from the Government, following Boris’ announcement on Sunday night, feedback from the CBI on their involvement highlights the approach being taken and the outstanding issues that require more clarity.

The CBI has reviewed and fed into the government’s initial draft of their ‘working safely’ guidance documents.

The guidance is organised by ‘work type’ rather than traditional sectors. There will be seven guidance docs in total, covering:

  • Working outdoors
  • Hotels, bars and restaurants
  • Factory, plant, warehouse
  • In vehicles
  • In other people’s homes
  • In shops and branches
  • In offices & contact centres

After their initial review, there are several positives, but there are also some areas to improve:

  • It would be helpful to have an overarching statement that sets out the government’s guiding principles and also makes clear how the business guidance interacts with some critical enablers such as schools, transport, testing and PPE availability.
  • More clarity on the legal status would help. What in here is “must do”? And if you follow best endeavours, does that protect you from legal challenge? There will be real concern around arbitration, so the clearer government can be, the more confidence firms will have.
  • And it would be good to have more clarity on how the guidance applies across the UK, and how it sits with any variation in devolved nations and regions. What guidance for example should UK-wide firms adhere to?

Businesses see transport as a key enabler to the restart both in the movement of people, but also in the movement of goods and delivery of services.

However, there are clear concerns around:

  • The health and safety of employees if they have no alternative to public transport
  • Placing additional pressure on a transport system with reduced services
  • Pressures on PPE provision, if it becomes mandatory for public transport
  • And, building on that, we also know there are concerns in the transport industry about what social distancing will mean for them as they ramp up operations.

These businesses need clarity from government about how the lockdown will be phased out and how it can support them with the restart.

Recent estimates found transport networks will need to be vastly reduced services post-lockdown – potentially impeding workers’ ability to travel. So, employers will need to consider this as plan for restart, adapting, to what is likely to be a continued period of transport disruption.

Employers must be mindful of the heightened concern many workers will have about returning to work – travelling on public transport could exacerbate this if they do not feel safe.

How can networks operate safely and sustainably when social distancing means capacity is greatly reduced? For example, how can social distancing on commuter services, as well as wider travel options be enforced.

Above all, it emphasises the value of mobility and the importance of transport connectivity to the economy. We’ve seen behaviour can change rapidly, and business must play a role in shaping the transport infrastructure of the future.