Most firms ready to restart within three weeks

The vast majority of businesses could restart their operations in three weeks or less if the UK lockdown is relaxed.

In a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), 29% of firms said they would need one to three weeks' notice to get up and running again, while 35% would need less than a week, and 25% would need no notice at all.

Smaller businesses were prepared for a faster return to work than others, with 64% of those with fewer than 10 employees saying they would need less than a week to restart.

Preparedness also varied by sector, with 68% of business-to-business service firms saying they would need less than one week, compared to 50% of those providing business-to-consumer services.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a public announcement on Sunday 10 May, in which he will set out the Government's lockdown exit strategy.

Adam Marshall, director-general of the BCC, said:

"Over the coming days, business communities will require clear forward guidance from government on plans to re-open parts of the economy, transport networks, schools and local services.

"While the fight against coronavirus must remain the top priority, the communication of plans for the easing of restrictions must also begin immediately."