Businesses in Belgium should prepare themselves for getting back to work from May 3, when the latest set of confinement measures runs out, according to the employers’ organisation the Federation of Belgian Enterprise (FEB).
The FEB has asked the group of experts in charge of the country’s exit strategy (GEES) to present its proposals for an economic revival after the confinement.
““Companies that are planning for the next few weeks should know what to expect from the start of next week,” the federation said.
“The National Security Council has taken the right decisions: to maintain the measures with some targeted and controlled relaxation,” said CEO Pieter Timmermans.
“We have come to a point where health and economics should no longer be opposed but combined. We must gradually restart our economy without losing sight of the health risk for the population and the risk of a resurgence of the pandemic”.
Meanwhile the SNI, which represents small business owners, said it was regrettable that the government had not prepared a road-map for companies to allow them to prepare for a return to work within safe guidelines.
“Nine out of ten small businesses have suffered a very large loss of turnover and cannot see the end of the tunnel,” the SNI said in a statement. “Only clear communication on a progressive end to confinement can give them any perspective.”
The SNI also took issue with the government’s decision to allow some businesses, like garden centres, to open, while florist shops have to remain closed.
“This is completely unacceptable unfair competition which will be added to the already existing competition from supermarkets which also sell flowers,” said president Christine Mattheeuws.
“Once again, we are favouring major distributors at the expense of small businesses, although they can also apply social distancing without any problem as they are dealing with fewer people at a time than a large dealer would,” she said.
Meanwhile the Flemish chamber of commerce Voka said 41% of companies are ready to start up again, or have already done so.
According to managing director Hans Mertens, almost one in three small businesses has restarted, with another 13% ready to do so in the next two weeks.
“More and more companies want to pick up the thread again,” he said. “It is also clear that entrepreneurs are taking seriously their responsibility to get their employees back to work safely. We are now also asking the governments, the National Security Council and the expert group for a smart and phased exit plan so that the economy can restart safely,” he said.