Two significant dates
23 February 2021
While it was described as a roadmap out of lockdown, and by the prime minister himself as a “one-way road to freedom”, Boris Johnson’s plan to restore public and economic health in the wake of Covid-19 is essentially a timetable for recovery.
Broadly, restrictions on social and commercial activity will be lifted in four stages between early March and mid-June, with outdoor activities opening earlier than indoor ones.
And while yesterday’s announcement applies solely to England, the devolved nations are expected to adopt broadly similar approaches.
Before proceeding to each stage, the government will examine data to assess the impact of previous easements to ensure the virus is kept in check. These include: the on-going success of the vaccination rollout; the continued decline in hospital admissions; the strain on the NHS; and the appearance of new mutations.
The sense of relief and expectation since the announcement has been palpable now that people have a timeline to follow and a logical sequence of measures. This is great news for the business community.
I think there are two significant dates to bear in mind. One is 21 June, midsummer’s day, which is the day when ministers hope that the final restrictions will be eased. Coincidentally, that’s the day before the Hillhead plant exhibition (pictured) is scheduled to open in Derbyshire.
However, the second important date is much closer. On 3 March, the chancellor Rishi Sunak will deliver his Budget statement with fiscal measures for economic recovery and support for those out of work (currently 1.7 million) and those still furloughed. It’s also hoped that more detail will be given about the Government’s commitment to ‘build, build, build’.
Quite what the ‘new normal’ will be is still difficult to predict given the prolonged shutdown of some significant business sectors. However, the construction industry has shown great resilience – as reported frequently on the blog.
That’s good for the tool and plant hire industry. And it’s great that we now have a logical timeline for recovery.