THE Chamber of Commerce has called for urgent clarity after the government announced its return to work plan.

The Herefordshire and Worcester Chamber of Commerce said it is still looking for more information about what the plan means for the safety of staff and employers.

Sharon Smith, chief executive officer, said: “We are urging the government to provide business and employers with further advice and guidance following the briefing last night. (May 10).

"Businesses need sufficient time, support and plans in place to ensure that they can provide a safe and secure working environment that protects not only it’s staff and customers but also wider public health.

“It has been made clear that businesses who can continue to work from home, should continue to do so, and that we must stay at home as much as possible.

"We welcome news that businesses are urged to begin to restart, however, we need to do this in a controlled way with clear guidance in order to protect not only people’s lives but also their livelihoods.”

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The Chamber's advice to businesses and employers following the briefing is as follows:

1. The Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce will be launching a COVID-19 Business Support Hub which will provide the latest advice to business and employers and be a source of up to the minute advice.

2. Stay Alert. Control the Virus. Save Lives. The Government is clear that its goal is to continue to protect the NHS, save lives and balance this priority whilst allowing the economy a chance to begin to recover.

3. Business and employers who can operate with staff from home, should continue to do so until further guidance. Businesses who cannot, may return to the workplace but only where social distancing measures, a risk assessment and health & safety guidelines adhered to.

4. The changes set out on May 10 do not affect the Job Retention Scheme (furloughed staff) which is still in place until the end of June and we will continue to lobby government for a tapered wind-down of the scheme.

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: "Businesses share the Prime Minister's ambition to see more people return safely to work over the coming weeks.

"Companies will do everything they can to protect employees and customers, maintain social distancing and operate successfully as more sections of the economy are permitted to re-open."