England now faces a second lockdown starting on Thursday, déjà vu for the hospitality, non-essential retail, travel and tourism. Whilst nobody believed that coronavirus wasn't still an ever-present risk costing lives and hampering the economy at least a semblance of business life was beginning to pick up. For the hospitality, tourist and retail industries this could not have come at a worst time. Many pubs, bars and restaurants that have been clinging on by their finger tips and will be seriously worried that they will not be able to sustain their tenuous position in the face of another enforced period of lockdown.
The furlough scheme has been restored until early December when the latest lockdown is said to be ending but with the hints from various sources that soon to be imposed lockdown is likely to extend beyond the 2 December (with no suggested end date), most organisations presume that the lockdown will be extended. Giambrone's corporate and commercial team believe that businesses will be more resilient and innovative during the proposed lockdown and can offer advice and guidance to get through the next period of restrictions.
Nick McEwen, an associate in the corporate and commercial team commented "the economy is not likely to see the same level of contraction that was experienced in April as not all businesses will be closed. Also, businesses have become more innovative and found ways of adapting their business model to the restrictions imposed, for example many restaurants have developed a takeaway service enabling them to do a limited amount of business. Those that have linked to a delivery service will score highly as the vulnerable revert to shielding. However, that does not mean that there won't be large numbers of businesses that will be facing difficulties."
The second lockdown is likely to cause a bigger headache to both the insured and insurers with regard to the second raft of business interruption claims as more businesses are adapting their services from their core business. Giambrone's lawyers predict that challenges will arise as the now beleaguered insurance sector will see more businesses expanding into unanticipated areas leaving open the potential for dispute in the wake of the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) court action as the Court provided clarity on a number of points but decided that some situations should be decided on a case by case basis. Giambrone's lawyers are well placed to assist businesses to negotiate with their insurers to speed up the often drawn-out negotiations to achieve a degree of financial stability.
Carolyn Fairbairn, the out-going director-general of the Confederation of British Industries (CBI), commented "By the time you put in place all the sensible measures you might want, people will have already lost their jobs," she said. "I have a real worry about the next generation and unemployment. The single thing I think the government could do which would make the most difference is to work with business, hand in glove, to create a one-year revival plan that is practical, that is directed at job creation." Ms. Fairbairn also suggested that a "national commission for economic recovery" should be set up involving businesses, unions, universities, colleges, local authority leaders as well as the government. She strongly believes that action should be taken sooner rather than later stating that if such an effort was left until the crisis abated it would be too late.
The director-general of the Institute of Directors, Jonathan Geldart, said "Directors know that the battle with this virus is far from over, and they want to play their part in preventing a second spike, which would extend the economic pain." He further commented "as the Government begins to ask more people to return to work, it's vital that the guidance is clear so that companies can plan how to return safely. As people with ultimate legal responsibility, directors need to have confidence that it's safe, and that if they act responsibly they won't be at undue risk." Jonathan Geldart acknowledged that the social distancing rules severely limit many businesses commercial activities therefore Government support measures must be capable of matching the consequences of the continuing restrictions. He further pointed out that there were a large number of small company directors continue to find themselves left out in the cold with regard to access to the Government's aid, and urged the Government to change this situation quickly.
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