Monday 1 February 2021 12:01 am

CBI calls for government to consult business more widely to draw up lockdown exit plan

One of the UK’s mot influential business bodies has called on the government to reach out to the country’s private sector for advice on how to reopen the economy post-lockdown.

The CBI has written to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to ask the government to outline six elements when drawing up its lockdown exit strategy, including what will be considered high or low-risk “economic activity”, whether there will be a return to tiered restrictions and what conditions need to be met to ease restrictions further.

The letter also called for the government to outline how the Covid vaccine will be rolled out after the most vulnerable are inoculated, how it will get its test and trace regime working effectively and how it will create “bespoke” reopening plans for industries most affected by Covid-19.

Boris Johnson announced last week that the current Covid lockdown will last until 8 March at least and that he will unveil an exit strategy on 22 February.

It has been speculated that the roadmap could see hospitality venues closed until May, with non-essential retail opened in late March and early April.

The CBI’s director-general Tony Danker asked Kwarteng in his letter to collaborate with the private sector to while drawing up the plan.

“Clearly, the precise dates will be determined by data, so let’s use this time wisely to get the roadmap right together for when lockdown ends,” he said.

“There is huge appetite among businesses to help the government create and deliver a roadmap out of lockdown that lasts, has national consensus and kickstarts our economic recovery as 2021 unfolds.

“Businesses are currently completely in the dark when planning for the weeks and months ahead and this is hindering investment. We can provide more clarity and do the prep work now to enable them to plan for reopening and growth.”

It comes as the UK recorded another 21,088 Covid cases yesterday, with the seven-day average falling by 32.5 per cent this week.

Government figures also showed another 587 people died from Covid in the UK today, which brings the seven-day figure to 8,219 – a 5.3 per cent week-on-week drop.

Patients admitted to hospital over the past seven days has hit 22,231 – a 19.6 per cent decrease from the week before.