Roadmap out of lockdown: industry reacts

Johnson: plan includes review into potential use of Covid-19 status certification
Johnson: plan includes review into potential use of Covid-19 status certification

Industry leaders have broadly welcomed the government’s new plan for a four-step roadmap out of lockdown in England.

The plan was announced yesterday afternoon (22 February) by prime minister Boris Johnson.

The key dates for the gradual unlocking are step one: 8 and 29 March; step two: no earlier than 12 April, step three: no earlier than 17 May and step four: no earlier than 21 June, by when the government hopes to be in a position to “remove all legal limits on social contact”. (See infographic below, which you can download here as a PDF).

However, the overarching caveat is that “only when the government is sure that it is safe to move from one step to the next will the final decision be made”.

Johnson also said that there would be a review about whether some form of Covid-19 status certification would also play a role in the safe re-opening of venues. “We are mindful of the many concerns surrounding exclusion, discrimination and privacy,” he stated.

Printing industry leaders welcomed the overall announcement, while remaining realistic about the challenges that still lie ahead on the road to recovery.

Charles Jarrold, chief executive, BPIF
“We now have clear visibility of the plan. Everyone’s been through an awful lot, both on a personal level and a business level and I think more than anything we all need to have visibility about how we come out of this – the reality is the government can’t protect everybody from coronavirus forever.

“Looking at the four stages, in reality the things that will affect demand in our industry are probably April-to-May – as outdoor attractions and retail open up. It does enable people to plan events and I think that’s what’s really important.”

Rob Kelly, chief executive, Displayways Group
“From an events point-of-view I’m not factoring in anything to do with international events for the rest of this year. However, I think the positive side of it might be that the national work may spread about. Our thoughts are around office repurposing and even shops and venue repurposing – if you’ve got a big office space that’s for 300 people, and a 10 year lease, what are you doing to use that space for? I think there’s going to be some creative thinking with spaces branded and used for shorter periods. We were feeling far more optimistic in recent weeks, pre-announcement, people are starting to do things in readiness for opening, and now that will just accelerate.”

Tony Gill, co-founder and CEO, Mosaic Group
“I think it sounds sensible. Safety has to be a priority and we’ve got to take the pressure off doctors and nurses. At Mosaic we work with a variety of customers from financial services to retail and travel. Travel has been decimated and will be very busy now, but it’s been a terrible situation for them. Retailers are planning campaigns now and we’ve got projects being planned involving physical stuff in-store. Direct mail and day-to-day marketing for financial services is probably at 80% of normal.

“With spring coming we can maybe start to think about a new normal, because I think it will be a new normal.”

Gareth Roberts, managing director, Bishops Printers
“The roadmap is really useful because it will turn the glass to half-full. The science and the rollout of the vaccine would make me believe that actually these dates will be reasonably reliable. In terms of planning for recovery, the last thing you want is to regress again.

“Whether it’s theatres or sports… my sense of our customers is they can now start to have reasonable confidence in how they are going to stimulate activity. Football clubs can definitely start season ticket renewal campaigns and marketing activity for the new season with confidence that fans will be in there. I believe that schools going back is also important, because people working from home will be able to focus on planning the re-emergence of their business and their role within that. Within the next three weeks we’re going to be on a progressive and sustained pathway toward recovery. I’m really excited and really positive.”

The complete 68pp document with full details of the Covid-19 Response – Spring 2021 report and entire roadmap can be downloaded here.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to outline the equivalent plans for Scotland later today.

The Welsh government published its plans last week.

Northern Ireland Assembly members have been debating the lifting of restrictions there today.