One in 10 firms are unable to open safely under the Government’s current health and safety guidance, a major study has revealed.

The finding forms part of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker – a nationwide survey of the pandemic’s impact on industry.

According to the research, most small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are “in a position to partially restart operations” as lockdown restrictions lift.

But 10 per cent of business owners did not believe they could safely reopen and restart operations, primarily citing social distancing difficulties.

Under the Government’s current guidance, almost all non-essential shops and retail spaces – such as hardware stores, fashion retailers, bookies, and gift shops – can reopen from 15 June 2020, but only if they can satisfy strict social distancing criteria.

To open safely, a business must show that it has completed a coronavirus risk assessment and implemented measures to help prevent the spread of the virus and protect employees and customers. This might include frequently cleaning surfaces and checkouts and helping customers maintain a safe 2-meter distance from one another.

Commenting on the research, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said: “While businesses have welcomed the publication of official guidance on how they can reopen premises and restart operations, some sectors still require greater clarity from the government on when and how they will be allowed to do so.

“This is particularly the case for hospitality and leisure companies, which will not reopen before July at the earliest.”

He added: “Companies at all levels of readiness to restart, of all sizes, and in every part of the UK will need sustained government support as they navigate the ‘new normal’ with reduced demand and restrictions still in place. Many support schemes will need to be adapted and updated, but must not be withdrawn prematurely.”

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