SFA calls for reopening plan for business and society

April 23, 2021

The Small Firms Association (SFA), today, calls on government to publish a reopening plan for business and society to ease the COVID-19 restrictions and reopen Ireland’s economy and society.

SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens stated: “As we approach the end of our fourth consecutive month under the toughest restrictions in Europe small firms are seeking clarity on reopening. Business owners need a timely, practical, and realistic plan for when they can welcome back customers and employees to the office.

“Despite the improving picture in Ireland, small firms continue to be left confused and disappointed by the lack of indicative dates for the reopening of the economy. Business owners are exhausted from the government’s mixed messaging which is adding to their anxiety of being closed for over a third of the year. SFA is calling on government to announce a reopening plan for the whole economy before the end of the month to provide certainty to our smallest employers.

“An early indication of reopening dates is essential so that small firms can prepare their staff, order new stock, activate their supply chains and evaluate their cash-flow needs. The terms on which businesses reopen are also crucial and we would ask that protocols are reviewed to enable small business owners to plan business capacity.

“The easing of restrictions will be a relief to the business community, but it doesn’t mean this crisis is over for our smallest employers. These businesses are saddled with debt and when they do reopen, they could be facing ongoing restrictions that will hamper their capacity to generate revenue. It is vital that the full range of COVID-19 business supports, are kept in place for as long as needed and that competitiveness is maintained, as the economy recovers. Rising business costs is a growing concern amongst small business owners, particularly rising supply chain, Brexit and employment costs, utilities and the resource costs of navigating red tape. Due to the withdrawal of Ulster Bank and KBC, access to and the cost of finance to grow after this crisis will be more challenging.

“Ireland has made such significant progress in combatting this virus and that there is light at the end of the tunnel is hugely positive and no business owner wants to return to lockdown. However, to relieve pressure on small firms, government, as a matter of urgency, need to publish a reopening plan for business and society” concluded Spollen-Behrens.