Time to plan for a future after mass vaccinations

IT is time for businesses to start planning again for the long-term with vaccination programmes likely to bring much greater stability to the economy, the head of Jersey Business has said.

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Despite many firms facing disruption and forced closures as Jersey suffers a second wave of Covid-19, Graeme Smith, the organisation’s chief executive, said that the imminent inoculation of the Island’s population should prevent the continued economic turbulence that there had been since the first outbreak in March.

Jersey’s government is entitled to a share of the 350 million vaccines pre-ordered by the UK government and a mass roll-out in the Island is expected to start within weeks.

Mr Smith said that this should spell the end of uncertainty over what environment businesses might operate in.

‘Until we know that there’s a deliverable vaccine that can have an impact across the population, you potentially are seeing restrictions continue,’ he said.

‘When people say we need to learn to live with Covid, well, there’s different levels of it. So in other words, if it’s living with Covid as it currently, without a vaccine, that will mean whenever we get winter weather, we will get spikes in cases.

‘We’ve seen the range of increasing the restrictions that have to be necessary to control that and it’s impossible to plan for a business in the long term, because the impact can be so severe.

‘It can go from 100% revenue to 0% revenue overnight and you just cannot plan that in a consistent way.

‘The difference now is that so you could have less of a “yo-yo” situation in 2021.’

He added that not only would this greater certainty allow businesses to plan more clearly, it would encourage outside investment and lending from banks that many firms desperately need ed at this time.

‘What you’ve got now is a reasonably clear plan in terms of the vaccinations. Yes, it may take three to six months in 2021,’ he said. ‘But actually that is a far more certain outcome that we will get back to a norm where it’s not going to mean significant, restrictive measures being introduced that are going to impact the economy.

‘So businesses can see the end of this. And investors, who potentially need to put capital in the business, can say actually I can see something ahead here. Businesses can say to banks that they can see a way through this.

‘So actually getting investment and capital back into businesses, you can start to see that happening in the second half of next year

‘Both banks and investors should be able to see a way forward so that they can justify putting money into a business.’

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