Business leaders: Slow vaccine roll-out a risk to recovery

Slow vaccine rollout a real risk say business leaders who believe second half of the year seen as most likely for return of most staff to workplace, according to the latest Institute of Directors survey.

A slow roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme is seen by a third (33pc) of business leaders as the single biggest risk facing their organisations, according to new research by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland.

An extension of Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions beyond March 2021 is seen as the second single biggest risk by business leaders (23pc). In addition, 78pc of business leaders believe that COVID-19 will have a negative impact on the bottom line of their business for 2021.

“With mass vaccination offering the tantalising prospect of a return to some semblance of normality, it is to be hoped that, once supply issues are resolved, the roll-out of the vaccination programme will pick-up pace”

Findings from the IoD’s quarterly Director Sentiment Monitor also reveal that a clear majority (70pc) of business leaders anticipates the second half of the year as the most likely period for a return to the workplace by most of their staff.

Brexit supports needed

Brexit has also caused an impact, with 56pc of business leaders believing it will have a negative impact on the bottom line of their business for 2021, and just 9pc believing it will be positive.

56pc of business leaders think the Government should provide further Brexit supports (to those already in place) so that Irish exporters/importers can trade more effectively with the UK.

“For many business leaders, the uncertainties and challenges of the past year due to Covid-19 and Brexit have continued into 2021,” said Maura Quinn, chief executive of the Institute of Directors in Ireland.

“Business leaders are clearly concerned about the pace at which the Covid-19 national vaccination programme is being rolled out. It is not unrelated that our research also finds that business leaders see the final two quarters of the year as the most likely period when most staff can return to the company workplace.

“With mass vaccination offering the tantalising prospect of a return to some semblance of normality, it is to be hoped that, once supply issues are resolved, the roll-out of the vaccination programme will pick-up pace.”

The IoD’s Director Sentiment Monitor was issued to its 3,000 members comprising CEOs and company directors. The survey was conducted from 18 January to 4 February 2021 and covered business sentiment for the period Q4 2020 with a largely forward-looking outlook.

“With the practical realities of Brexit taking effect, along with the issues presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, many business leaders are facing unprecedented challenges,” Quinn said.

“A majority of those involved in international trade, with the UK, in particular, who have responded to our survey, also feel that further Brexit supports by the Government would be welcome.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 11 February 2021