Getting back to business: The costs of reopening after lockdown

Updated: Jul 2


SMEs in the UK are getting back into business. Gradually, sector by sector, we are beginning to adapt to the ‘new normal’, and small and medium businesses are open or preparing to open and start trading again. After the recent government announecement to loosen of lockdown measures, many pubs, bars, and restaurants are getting ready to open their doors to the public again from this weekend. Because of the looser lockdown rules many offices will begin to reopen as well.


However, it won’t be quite as simple as jumping on the train and returning to your old desk, shaking hands with your colleagues, and straight back to normal as before. Workplaces are having to undergo a complete transformation to keep staff safe and adjust to the legal requirements of social distancing laws and also the ethical requirements of keeping employees safe and minimising risk.


This new workplace that so many will return to next week will involve many essential measures, but from bottles of hand sanitiser to mandatory face masks and perspex dividers, how much is this all going to cost?


Below is a breakdown of the total cost to the UK to adapting and making offices and workplaces save

Hand Sanitiser — £3,058,560 (per day)

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, hand sanitiser has become an essential item, and many wouldn’t leave their home, let alone re-enter the workplace, without one in their bag.

For every single full-time employee in the UK to have two pumps of hand sanitiser every hour they work, would be an overall per day of a staggering £3,058,560!


Face Masks — £72,000,000 (per day)

Next up, we have face masks. Face masks have been absolutely essential for frontline workers and they are now also a legal requirement for anyone travelling on public transport in England and Scotland. It will be at each UK SMEs own discretion whether or not facemasks are required in the workplace.

In total, the UK would have to fork out £36,000,000 to ensure that every full-time worker has access to a face mask. For two masks each, which would be more appropriate, the cost would amount to a huge £72,000,000.


Floor Markings — £1,234,309,789

Social distancing is set to remain in place even if we are moving to one metre distancing from this weekend. When there is a large number of employees or customers in a confined space it is very important to uphold the social distancing regulations.

In the UK today, there is a total of 678,192,192.00 square metres of commercial space. So, to have social distance markings at every two metres, it will collectively cost the UK economy about £1,234,309,789.


Deep cleaning — £2,373,672,672 (per day)

As well as the facemark, social distancing markings and other costs in place UK SMEs are going to have to keep workplace constantly clean daily but also they will need to pay for regular deep cleans to reduce risk of the spread of the virus.

For every business in the UK to pay for one deep clean the total cost will come to £2,373,672,672.


Training — Free!

Finally, we have the cost of training UK SME employees in essential health and safety procedures. Thankfully, the World Health Organization (WHO) is offering online training courses completely free of charge. These courses include subjects such as Infection and Prevention Control, health and safety briefings for respiratory diseases, Operational Planning Guidelines, and more.  


Overall total — £3,683,041,021.

So, for day one back in the office, the collective cost for the UK business could be a staggering, £368,304,102. This may seem steep, but for the UK SMEs that are beginning to reopen, health and safety of employees is now priority. 


Gary Peeling, CEO at UK commercial print company:Where The Trade Buys, currently producing PPE for UK hospitality venues, retail stores, workplaces, education spaces, charity shops, the NHS and more. The company has also been involved in manufacturing face visors for NHS essential workers in the fight against Covid-19.

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