SATURDAY, July 4, will herald the next phase of Covid-19 restrictions being eased. This will be another step towards the return to some sense of normality for all of us.

It will see thousands of restaurants, hairdressers, pubs, hotels and campsites re-opening their doors to customers and the Federation of Small Businesses welcomes this move. What’s more, we are encouraging everyone to do all they can to benefit from and support their local small businesses over the days and weeks ahead. This is important because while the past three months have been incredibly challenging for all of us, for small business owners the collapse in trade has been devastating. This weekend will bring some light at the end of the tunnel, which cannot come soon enough.

However, our research shows that around one in five small firms that had to close due to lockdown restrictions, say that reopening is challenging and costly. More than one in four say initial reopening costs are in excess of £1,000 as they invest in screens, face coverings, hand sanitiser and other protective measures.

The new ‘one metre plus’ approach should help many to get back to business in a way that means they can turn a profit, particularly across the leisure and hospitality industries. However there remains confusion around some of the Government guidance and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Clear and easily accessible guidance will help businesses to open in an orderly, safe and productive way.

It’s important to remember that many businesses will see already thin margins squeezed even further as they look to operate within the confines of the ‘new normal’.

Confusion, delay and wasted time and money must all be minimised. That way we will ensure that the many firms which have taken huge hits to their balance sheets have the best opportunities possible to recover efficiently, effectively and above all, safely.