Survey: two-thirds of British firms are fully operational after Coved

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LONDON (Reuters) – Two-thirds of British companies say they are “fully functional” after the massive shutdown imposed by the Corona virus, up from half in June, a survey said on Sunday.

Staff in the morning rush hour in London. Reuters Archive

Another 21 percent of the companies, polled in the first half of July by the Confederation of British Industry, said they were operating partially, with some headquarters still closed.

“In light of the gradual reopening of companies, this month’s data appears to be a turning point for the economy,” said Albish Palega, economist at Etihad, one of the largest groups representing corporate interests in Britain.

But he added that many companies, especially in the sectors of direct dealing with consumers, are still experiencing a “severe financial crisis”.

Britain has been gradually lifting the overall closure since May, the most recent big move on July 4, when hotels, bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would postpone further easing of procedures, which would have been helpful to some arts and entertainment venues, due to an increase in injuries.

The companies said, on average, that they were operating at 85 percent of the usual energy due to social divergence, compared to 72 percent when a stricter rule imposing a generally two-meter distance between individuals was in effect.

The Federation of Industries said that weak consumer demand remains the most common challenge faced by companies to resume activities normally. More than two-thirds of the companies said it was preventing normal operations, down slightly from three quarters in June.

The Bank of England will announce its new quarterly forecasts on Thursday, as economic sectors recover from varying rates of unprecedented economic damage.

Whether the main impediment to growth is weak consumer demand or difficulties companies face in meeting it, it will be a major factor when the central bank decides on economic stimulus measures later this year.

Prepared by Ahmed Elhamy for the Arabic Bulletin

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