Commenting on the First Minister’s announcement on easing lockdown in Wales, Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said:
“It is welcome news that retail businesses should now prepare to reopen following the next review in three weeks’ time – firms will very much consider this to be the starting gun on reopening Wales. There will be a clear expectation from businesses that they are able to open in a few weeks’ time, providing that the R rate continues to drop.
“This steps up the need for businesses to benefit from a Social Distancing Grant Fund which would help those firms that might need to make significant adjustments to their premises in order to comply with social distancing. This will help firms meet the financial cost of reopening under social distancing rules at a time when they have potentially been unable to earn over the previous three months.
“The First Minister also raised questions over the viability of the 2020 tourism season and there will be concerns that tourism in 2020 may not earn firms enough to see them through to next year. This advances the case for Welsh Government to commit to a Tourism Hibernation Scheme to assist those firms to make the best of this year and survive the winter months from the end of 2020 and into 2021.
“Welsh Government must urgently bring forwards guidance to ensure that firms can prepare for reopening in the coming weeks. Many businesses will have already given significant thought to how they can reopen safely, prioritising the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and customers. However, there needs to be guidance specifically aimed at SMEs in order to help them prepare, alongside a reopening retail campaign. Welsh Government must proactively message to businesses that they need to prepare, how to do so, and signpost towards the resources that are available.
“It’s important to note that if businesses are going to be expected to make up the shortfall in the furlough scheme for August, that there is a lead in time for businesses to be up-and-running to a point where they are able to do this, and Welsh Government must have this at the forefront of decision-making on reopening business in Wales.
“We understand that this is only the beginning of reopening Wales, and we will continue to work very closely with Welsh Government on behalf of our members to ensure that businesses are given the best support possible to reopen successfully and safely.”