For anyone who is a parent in the UK, the news of schools reopening this week (if you're not based in Scotland or Wales where it has already started happening) will be a welcome relief from weeks of juggling home-schooling and work commitments, and children missing out on contact time with teachers and socialising with their friends.
When Boris Johnson announced the government's 'roadmap' out of restrictions two weeks ago, the nation was definitely buoyed by a sense of optimism. The first steps on the road to recovery begin today with schools opening, families being reunited with loved ones in care homes, the opportunity to engage in outdoor sport activities and one on one meet-ups for socialising. Although these steps are cautious, there is lots to be excited about with the plans accelerating through the months; the national 'stay at home' order is due to be lifted on the 29th March, outdoor leisure/hospitality, personal care and non-essential retail opening from 12th April, households able to mix indoors at pubs, restaurants and sporting events from 17th May and a near complete return to normality by late June.
The devolved nations, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, have announced slightly different roadmaps but we can see that their plans from April do not diverge too dramatically from England, and so we can assume a level of parity.
As soon as the announcements were made, many business groups welcomed the clarity of some milestones and dates to plan for. It has evidently been an incredibly difficult time for many businesses as the crisis has continued on for many months longer than initially anticipated - today marks the start of the tide turning in our favour and time to think about what your business should do to thrive in 2021.
The mood of the public is one of hope and optimism for spring and summer. Immediately after the government published the lockdown exit plans and Britons were told that they may be able to travel from 17th May, travel companies and airlines reported a surge in demand and bookings; one of the largest operators, Tui, announced a 500% increase in bookings overnight and the UK's largest airline, easyJet, reported that flight bookings had spiked by over 300%.
Furthermore, the Bank of England's Chief Economist has remarked that the economy is currently a "coiled spring" with lots of "pent-up financial energy," as let's not forget, many individuals have actually improved their finances during this period through unintended saving from reduced commuting and leisure costs. There are many who are confident that consumers will be ready to spend and enjoy experiences with their friends and family as soon as it is permitted - something that was evident last summer with the success of the Treasury's 'Eat Out To Help Out' scheme.
The private hire and taxi industry will clearly have an opportunity here to build back, taking advantage of consumer spending following a very difficult year for the industry. Companies need to be ready. Operators will need to ensure their fleets are up and running with the capacity needed to make sure that available work is not lost to the competition and service levels are at a premium to encourage consumers to keep coming back. A fleet optimised through configurable automated booking and dispatch to guarantee maximum efficiency and a great user experience is needed.
Is your dispatch system up to the task? If not, now is the time to make the switch.
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