A senior figure with Britain’s biggest business organisation the CBI told The Yorkshire Post that nearly all companies will soon have someone in self-isolation, while another source said that small and micro businesses will suffer severe consequences from isolation and sickness levels.
David Kerfoot, chair of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, said that those on the financial and social margins of society would be “disproportionately” affected by the virus which has now been confirmed in 798 people in Britain. There were three new UK fatalities yesterday, bringing the death toll to 11, including the first in Scotland.Mr Kerfoot said: “As a country, and as a county, things will get a lot worse before they get better. Our hope is that the government will act swiftly and decisively and come good on their promise to support small businesses and that any financial aid is easy to access. Regionally, the impact of the virus on key sectors such as tourism and the care industry could be catastrophic.
“There will inevitably be a disproportionate impact for those already on the financial and social margins of society. A significant percentage of our businesses are small and micro and will be heavily impacted by isolation measures and high sickness levels.”
Beckie Hart, regional director for the CBI in Yorkshire, warned that the virus outbreak’s impact on tourism would be significant for Yorkshire.
“Nearly every company will have some one who is in self-isolation before long,” she said.
“This will impact on staff member’s parents, colleagues, friends and children.
“This is also going to mean a huge amount of stress testing of companies’ IT systems. Rural broadband will face questions if there are enforced periods of people working from home.
Some of these places are not going to be able to do it.
“And of course many manufacturers and retailers do not have these sorts of choices.”
“It is going to cost the Government and it is going to cost business,” she added.
“Things are going to be tough.”
Ms Hart warned that airlines and rail operators would suffer lost revenue from reduced footfall and that, while some rail operators serving Yorkshire were currently under Government control, the majority were private businesses that their franchise agreements required them to keep running services despite reduced passenger levels.
While panic buying remains rife in many supermarkets, multiple sources told The Yorkshire Post that supply chains in the UK’s food retail sector were robust.