Reacting to the Prime Minister’s confirmation that ‘Plan B’ restrictions to combat the Omicron variant will be lifted in England from Thursday 27 January, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “The introduction of Plan B measures caused great harm to many businesses in industries such as hospitality, leisure and retail over the crucial festive period, so their removal will be hugely welcomed by all those affected.
“More generally, this is a very important step in the economic recovery. The rhetoric of further restrictions surrounding fears over the Omicron variant during the build-up to Christmas had squeezed the brakes on the growth we had experienced in the previous months due to the confusion and loss of confidence it created.
“The Chamber’s State of the Economy Index, which aggregates various indicators from answers in our Quarterly Economic Survey to rate the region’s economic health, fell in Q4 2021 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
“So today’s announcement should go some way to offering the certainty that businesses have desperately needed to invest and provide the engine for growth that will accelerate the recovery during what we all hope is now the final throes of the pandemic.
“Ending the work from home guidance will also be welcomed by businesses in the city and town centres that rely on footfall from office workers, as well as the office-based firms that are trying to develop a consistent approach to how their employees will work for the long term.
“There are still some key issues that persist, however, not least the record rises in inflation that are leading to a soaring cost of doing business and the acute skills shortage that continues to plague businesses’ attempts to recruit. “We would also urge Westminster to do everything it can to bring forward the end of self-isolation requirements for the fully-vaccinated as soon as the data allows, as the loss of key employees has also severely affected businesses across all sectors.”
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