Like so many business owners across the UK, Matt Sims had been forced to temporarily close operations and furlough staff during the lockdown period.
But the founder and managing director of The Motorhome Holiday Company, which is based in Hewish on the A370, has been spending the time growing his business in anticipation of a staycation boom when the restrictions are relaxed in England.
Under guidelines set out in the Government’s Plan to Rebuild document, hospitality and leisure firms are expecting to be back in operation, subject to conditions, from early July. This follows the phased reopening of the retail sector from June.
Sims says he has witnessed a surge in enquiries since Boris Johnson’s speech outlining how rules will be relaxed. In response to this, and with international travel likely to remain heavily restricted throughout 2020, the entrepreneur has taken steps to grow his business, investing some £300,000 in eight new motorhomes.
The company has also recruited a new member of staff to help ease the increased workload expected in July.
The issue, as for many other firms trying to plan ahead, is a lack of clarity from the Government on exactly when and how businesses can begin to restart operations safely.
Commenting on the phased reopening of the retail sector, Business West managing director Phil Smith said clarity and guidance will be welcomed, adding: “For many, this will be an entirely new way of operating as they apply guidance to the practical realities of their business.”
Speaking about the situation for his business, Sims says: “At the moment, our hire business is in suspended animation. The team are furloughed, and we are waiting clearer guidance from the government on lockdown rules.
“The Prime Minister has suggested that hospitality and leisure industries can return to work at the beginning of July. Currently, no social overnight travel is permitted. Plus, all the campsites are closed.
“Our best estimate at the moment is a return to business on or around Wednesday, July 1. In the meantime, we are fielding high levels of enquiries from all over the UK.
“There has been lots of commentary that the great British staycation will be back in full swing for 2020 and 2021. In response to the current climate and the expected limits in international travel meaning a boost in UK holidays, we have taken steps to grow our business.”
The business owner is also putting in place measures to ensure people’s safety ahead of the anticipated reopening.
These include a video handover guide, so this can be handled with minimal face to face interaction and avoiding close quarter demonstrations inside the motorhomes.
There will also be a strict cleaning regime, with an anti-viral smoke canister being used after every hire, anti-viral specialist sprays, personal protective equipment for staff and special procedures for the preparation of the motorhome contents such as plates, bowls, knives and forks.
All photos courtesy of The Motorhome Holiday Company