The year 2020 must go down in the history books as the year that defined uncertainty. The outcome of a Brexit trade agreement – uncertain and the extent of COVID disruption – uncertain. These are not minor concerns.
Business plans prepared this time last year, and created before the impact of COVID had become apparent, have largely been scuppered by subsequent events.
There does seem to be a glimmer of hope – if the various vaccines do their job – that lock-down will become a distant irritation rather than at present, the death-knell for businesses directly affected. Owners of hospitality establishments must be pulling their hair out with frustration and dismay.
Brexit seems to be playing out its final act, and if our Government is presently to be believed, we are edging ever closer to a no-deal outcome. Looking back over GOV.UK pronouncements on this issue during 2020 most, if not all, advice offered has presumed a no-deal outcome. Perhaps the mandarins have it right, being ready for the worst-fit outcome is sensible.
But we need good news. More importantly we need certainty. No-deal, fine, let’s get on with it. Change is always painful, but inevitable…
None of us want a repeat of 2020. We want personal freedom from the constant fear of COVID infection. We want to socialise. We want freedom to meet and embrace our family and friends. Business owners want a return to “normal” economic opportunity. We need our shops, hospitality and entertainment venues to open their doors without the sanction of social distancing.
Being realistic, COVID disruption is likely to leave its mark on 2021 until the vaccines start to curb infection rates later in the year.
Brexit, we will have certainty. With or without a trade agreement we will know what we need to do to adapt to our new relationship with the EU when the transition period ends 31 December 2020.
And so, 2021 is likely to be a mixed bag. Perhaps by Christmas 2021 we will be able to celebrate in a more open, COVID-free environment, and perhaps UK businesses and their EU suppliers and customers will have adjusted to the new normal.
In any event, we hope that those reading this blog manage a much needed break over the Christmas holiday period and wish you all the very best for 2021.