CBI President 'very optimistic' about PM's roadmap but calls for furlough extension

23 February 2021, 17:55

By Sam Sholli

The President of the CBI says he is "very optimistic" about Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown, but is calling for an extension to the furlough scheme.

Boris Johnson on Monday laid out four steps to lifting restrictions in England, after weeks of the nation facing a third lockdown to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

The Prime Minister has also said he is "very optimistic" about removing all of England's Covid restrictions by June 21.

Lord Bilimoria told LBC's Eddie Mair: "I'm very optimistic indeed. I think we at the CBI have been asking for a roadmap from the beginning of this month when we wrote to the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng."

He continued: "We're delighted that we now have the detailed roadmap with specific dates that the Government has put down."

Speaking of next week's budget announcement by Rishi Sunak, he added: "We need to continue the support. We're saying to the Chancellor we've got this roadmap [so] extend the furlough scheme.

"Let there be no cliff edge at the end of April. Let it go through until the summer and then taper it off."

Each step under the Prime Minister's roadmap is set to be in place for at least five weeks before experts asses whether it is safe to proceed to the next one.

The first step of plan will see all pupils in England's schools return to class from March 8, with wider use of face masks and testing in secondary schools.

What lockdown easing will look like:

Step 1
March 8

  • All schools to reopen
  • Outdoor school sports and activities allowed to resume
  • People allowed outdoors recreationally on a one-plus-one basis
  • Care home residents permitted one regular visitor and will be able to hold hands
  • Funerals to allow up to 30 people and weddings will allow 6

March 29

  • Up to six people or people from two households in outdoor spaces
  • Outdoor sports facilities to reopen (eg Tennis, Basketball courts)
  • Organised adult or children's sports activities can return
  • Outdoor child and parent groups can return (up to 15 parents)

Step 2 - after five weeks of Step 1, no earlier than April 12

  • Non-essential retail to open
  • Outdoor hospitality can reopen
  • Gyms and indoor leisure open for individual use
  • Hairdressers and personal care services can reopen
  • Outdoor attractions such as zoos, drive-thru cinemas and theme parks can reopen.
  • Driving lessons can reopen
  • Funeral wakes, weddings and receptions can have up to 15 people

Step 3 - after five weeks of Step 2, no earlier than May 17

  • Indoor hospitality, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcoholic drinks, and no curfew. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) will remain
  • 30 person limit outdoors - rule of six will apply indoors (subject to conditions)
  • International travel may be allowed (subject to conditions)
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas can open
  • Indoor entertainment, such as museums, cinemas and children’s play area can open
  • Remaining accommodation, such as hotels, hostels and B&Bs will be allowed to operate
  • Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes
  • Some large events, including conferences, theatre and concert performances and sports events
  • Significant life events allowed up to 30 people

Step 4 - after at least five weeks of Step 3, no earlier than June 21

  • Remove all legal limits on social contact, allowing people to meet indoors
  • Nightclubs, theatres allowed to reopen (subject to conditions)
  • All limits on weddings and other life events removed