May 19, 2020 / 11:21 PM / 6 days ago

One in three UK firms can reopen fully following COVID rules: BCC

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective mask walks across Waterloo Bridge in front of the City of London financial district during rush hour, as the number of Coronavirus cases grow around the world, in London, Britain, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) - Just over a third of companies in Britain believe they can fully restart operations while implementing the government’s coronavirus workplace guidance, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The British Chambers of Commerce said 45% of firms it questioned felt they would be able to partly reopen and 10% said they would not be able to operate at all, mostly citing problems with social distancing.

The BCC’s director general, Adam Marshall said some sectors still needed clarity from the government on when and how they will be allowed to restart.

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

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this month that workers in construction and manufacturing should be encouraged to return to their jobs. Some house-building companies and car manufacturers have resumed operations.

The BCC - whose members are typically small firms - said it surveyed 609 businesses between May 13 and May 15.

Many firms would see reduced demand because of the government’s broad social distancing guidelines, another factor preventing them from restarting at full capacity, it said.  

The survey showed 85% of firms which applied for the government’s wage support for furloughed employees had received payment while 54% of those seeking a 100% state-backed small business loan got the money with 38% waiting for a response.

Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken

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