Region’s businesses fear being lumbered with ‘burden of managing Covid’ - The Rugby Observer
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9th Aug, 2022

Region’s businesses fear being lumbered with ‘burden of managing Covid’

THE ‘BURDEN’ of managing Covid must not be passed on to companies under the Government’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan – so say the region’s business leaders.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce (CWCC) says firms across the region are eager for a return to ‘normal trading conditions’ – but fear being lumbered with the responsibility of managing the virus.

The ‘Living with Covid’ plan, announced yesterday (Monday February 22), includes removing the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test from Thursday (February 24), and removing the legal obligation for people to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate.

The plan also sees the end of free Covid testing for the general public from April 1.

Sean Rose, head of policy at the CWCC, said: “Companies across Coventry and Warwickshire are eager to go back to pre-Covid trading conditions and have been for the past two years.

“This has been an incredibly difficult couple of years and firms want to be able to push on for growth.

“However, it’s clear that Covid hasn’t gone away and the burden shouldn’t now fall on businesses to manage the virus moving forward and it is, therefore, vital that Government works with business to shape new guidance.”

British Chambers of Commerce Co-Executive Director, Claire Walker, said: “Businesses will welcome the ambition of the Prime Minister, which inches us closer to pre-pandemic trading conditions. However, for many firms, this move will not be without its challenges and Government must not pass public health decisions on to the business community, who are not public health experts.

“Members continue to tell us that access to free testing is key to managing workplace sickness and maintaining consumer confidence. If the government is to remove this, companies must still be able to access tests on a cost-effective basis.

“Firms will only truly be able to ‘Live with Covid’ when they are confident that a plan is in place for future outbreaks. Uncertainty will put a brake on investment and the shadow of the pandemic could continue to loom over our economy for some time to come.”

Retail trade union Usdaw says restrictions are being lifted a month early, expressing concern ‘whether this is based on following the science or political convenience’.

Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis added: “Ending free tests and the self-isolation rules will risk more infected people circulating in public and entering shops. Coupled with last month’s unnecessary end to mandatory face coverings in stores, that leaves shopworkers at greater risk of infection.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) described the new plan as ‘premature’, adding that it ‘fails to protect those at highest risk from Covid, and neglects some of the most vulnerable people in society’.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “It will create a two-tier system, where those who can afford to pay for testing – and indeed to self-isolate – will do so, while others will be forced to gamble on the health of themselves and others.”

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