Survey: Three quarters of Suffolk businesses could reopen within a week of lockdown lifting

The number of people who have died with coronavirus in Suffolk and north Essex has risen by four Pic

The number of people who have died with coronavirus in Suffolk and north Essex has risen by four Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Three quarters of Suffolk businesses would need less than a week to reopen according a new survey.

Suffolk Chamber’s latest survey found that 45% of businesses in the county could reopen immediately after lockdown was lifted, while 31% would need less than a week to prepare.

But 4% of businesses say they will need longer than three weeks to be ready to reopen.

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Despite this many businesses would likely not be working at full capacity due to the number of staff on furlough.

Of businesses that responded to the survey, 70% have made use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme scheme and 90% of those have had staff on furlough for more than three weeks.

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Many of the businesses that are using the government’s furlough scheme are concerned about whether the scheme, and other support, will continue.

The continuation of the scheme beyond June and whether the scheme would be changed to allow people to work part-time while still claiming some of their wages from the government were also business owner concerns.

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One business owner said: “A change to the furloughing scheme to make it more flexible would be helpful, this would allow us to bring back staff on a part-time basis.”

Andy Walker, head of policy at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce said: “It’s great that so many businesses can reopen at such short notice, but many will require the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to prevent redundancies in the short-term. Extending the scheme will give businesses a huge confidence boost and aid cash-flow at a time when economic activity will be severely reduced.”

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Most respondents to the poll said that they wanted the government to gradually ease off lockdown – reopening all businesses but implementing social distancing, reduced hours and increased hygiene precautions.

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