Last reviewed 6 May 2021

According to a new CBI survey, current social distancing guidelines mean only two-thirds (68%) of staff can physically work on premises and firms are operating at 81% of pre-pandemic capacity.

Services firms see the biggest impact on operating capacity, with capacity reduced to 78%, with a particularly large impact for consumer services firms (69%), while business and professional services firms reported an impact (81%) in line with the overall average.

The employers’ group is therefore calling on the Government to provide greater clarity on the future direction of travel for “some of the big decisions remaining as we progress through the roadmap” towards economic recovery.

The CBI points out that questions remain on Covid-status certification, its use to reopen global travel and whether such a scheme will extend to certain domestic activities and the future of social distancing in England.

Firms can plan ahead more easily and spur economic activity, if the Government gives more information about its plans, according to CBI President, Lord Bilimoria.

“The ongoing success of the vaccination roll-out and Government roadmap have provided firm foundations for the safe and gradual reopening of the economy,” he said. “The indicative timings have been invaluable in helping businesses to forward plan and develop contingencies with confidence.”

However, Lord Bilimoria went on, with the end of the roadmap period coming closer, firms are anxiously awaiting big decisions from the Government that will affect the way they run their businesses over the coming months.

“The future of social distancing in England and Covid certificates will affect all of our lives,” he stressed, “so it’s important to start building consensus among businesses and the public for the way forward.”

Some firms expect social distancing and the use of face coverings to continue beyond June 2021, the CBI has found.  Others are considering and trialling how their office space can be more flexible, to “dial up” and “dial down” social distancing, if required.