Most U.K. Firms Can Be Ready to Reopen Days After Lockdown Lifts
A pedestrian, wearing a protective face mask, passes a shuttered JD Sports Fashion Plc shop in Croydon, U.K. (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg)

Most U.K. Firms Can Be Ready to Reopen Days After Lockdown Lifts

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(Bloomberg) -- Most U.K. businesses could be up and running days after restrictions are lifted, with smaller firms primed to return the quickest, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.

Almost two-thirds of companies with fewer than 10 employees and half of large businesses said they could be ready within a week, a survey conducted April 29-May 1 found, with nine in ten able to resume trading by the three-week mark. The poll also showed that about 74% have placed staff on furlough to benefit from state wage support.

The survey suggests commerce could ramp up fairly quickly following the lifting of lockdown in the U.K., although questions remain about how businesses will be impacted by continued social distancing rules.

How long it will take firms to restart operations is one of the challenges facing the government as it begins to consider lifting a six-week lockdown that has shuttered much of the economy. Officials must balance calls to ease the restrictions with demands from labor unions and opposition politicians to ensure that working environments are sufficiently protected.

“While the fight against coronavirus must remain the top priority, the communication of plans for the easing of restrictions must also begin immediately,” BCC Director General Adam Marshall said. “It will be crucial for the government to maintain and evolve support for businesses.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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