The government must ask people to test before they go out, says the CBI, to restore consumer confidence.
The business group said the rapid spread of Omicron is having a serious and financial impact on hospitality and other industries – at a normally lucrative time of year.
40% drop in takings this December
With the cancellation of Christmas parties and other events, hospitality bookings have inevitably been cancelled.
It has outlined a series of immediate actions the government could take to ensure the country is equipped with the different variants.
Besides testing, it’s asking for a ‘roadmap out of plan B in January’ so it has the ‘maximum amount of time to prepare and adapt.’
The CBI says ‘the usually lucrative run up to Christmas’ has been ‘hampered by government measures and messaging’, It wants ministers to provide support ‘in lockstep with future restrictions.’
Schools must have reassurances for parents’ sake
The business group says it also wants the government in England to confirm that there will be suitable provisions for schools, so parents can go to work.
It wants the distribution of unspent grants to alleviate those firms that have hit hardest.
And it’s urging ministers that if restrictions continue after the January 5 review, then business rates relief and other help to reduce fixed costs must be offered to businesses.
No new government restrictions on businesses
The government says it is too early to say if new support measures are needed and have not put any restrictions on businesses – like lockdowns or reduced group sizes.
Still, many firms have seen a drop in customers at a time when they usually recoup lost earnings from the year.
Earlier this week, the UK’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty urged people not to “mix with people you don’t have to”.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister asked people to “think carefully before you go” out to socialise, with no indication of whether the CBI suggestions of testing before are on the cards.
According to hospitality industry estimates, takings this Christmas season will be down by 40 percent across the country and possibly double that in London.