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July 4 is “reopening day” in England. Restaurants, hotels, hairdressers and other hospitality and service businesses are coming out of hibernation, to use the government’s metaphor — but will customers come out too?
Early indications show that people are keen to buy a drink in the pub and book a “staycation” holiday or hair appointment, but businesses face considerable challenges if they are to offer their services safely.
In the FT’s next Business Clinic video, Claer Barrett, personal finance editor, and Andy Bounds, the FT’s enterprise editor, took questions from readers about the challenges of adapting their businesses.
Can businesses still make money as social distancing of at least 1m reduces capacity while cleaning costs rise? Will trade shift from city centres to the suburbs as many people work from home? And how are companies using technology to better manage the transition?
Northern Ireland has already loosened restrictions faster than England, while Scotland and Wales are a little behind.
Business owners will be looking at the lessons that can be learned from the retail sector. Many more shops opened on June 15 but trade has been slow for many, and shopping centre operator Intu has entered administration.
Meanwhile, any fresh surge in coronavirus cases could result in outlets being shut again. The government is considering extending the lockdown for two weeks in Leicester, where cases are growing.
How are you planning to reopen your business and how confident do you feel about demand returning?
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