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Social Distancing and the ‘requirement’ for PPE will finish off many businesses that the Lockdown didn’t

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The only indicators of what is happening to business and our economy as a direct result of the Lockdown is the collapse of high street business names making it into the media and press.

They demonstrate just how vulnerable business has become to unexpected change in an age where for most enterprises cashflow is king and those big enough literally borrow money that sits in their bank accounts between payments from customers and the time its used to pay their bills.

Small businesses don’t have the luxury of such choices. Many get into enough trouble spending VAT and Corporation Tax (or the equivalent) using bank statements as their guide to what they can spend rather than management accounts.

No matter the method or morality of how businesses manage their finances, the Lockdown has created financial chaos for the majority that have had to stop or drastically reduce operations.

The cases where the Chancellors giveaway or Loan Guarantees would actually help businesses are few, because there is an assumption that trade levels will return to the level that they were before the Lockdown immediately when it is lifted. They won’t.

Some business owners already have no way forward. The debt created was never part of their strategy and is simply too big to service when trading will have dropped and trading figures before the Lockdown only just covered wages and bills.

Others will keep going, knowing that the debt may be repaid, but it will be a black hole they didn’t need preventing investment, pay rises and all sorts of positives that would have trickled down positively for customers, employees and suppliers.

It doesn’t stop there. Even business owners desperate to keep going – because their business is their whole livelihood – may negotiate the challenges the Chancellor created to find that their attempts to keep going are derailed by Social Distancing and PPE.

Take for instance the Dental industry. I am aware of a Practice forced to take one of the Government’s underwritten Loans in excess of £50K – a massive dent for any business to absorb, IF things had been the same when the Lockdown ends and the private business that they have developed over many years was set to immediately return.

The sting in the tail are changes to regulatory requirements likely to demand expenditure on additional PPE and the requirement to the lengthen of time allocated for basic procedures that may make private dentistry unaffordable for most.

What many don’t appreciate is Dentistry is already one of the most regulated workspaces already with standing requirements for PPE and procedural safety for commercial business that make them second to none.

Businesses will not survive in the long term if they are required to undertake procedures and provide equipment for which there is no evidential need, made mandatory by some bureaucrat who doesn’t understand the implications of what they are doing for the business and for customers and patients who will no longer be able to afford what they do.

This scenario is playing out over and over again. Not just in Dentistry, or in public transport that I have mentioned before.

Services we all need are being wrecked for no reason, contributing to an horrific mess where the basic requirements of life – like going on a bus or having a tooth fixed – will no longer be something we can afford.

We didn’t need the Lockdown. We didn’t need Social Distancing. We don’t need either to continue damaging life.

We need this fear-driven farce to stop before life as we knew it before the crisis is completely obliterated by the cure.

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