How businesses can help Bristol get out of Tier 3

Author
James Durie
Chief Executive - Bristol Chamber & Initiative | Business West
2nd December 2020

We are now starting to see the impact of the lockdown measures here with the infection rate flattening. I think we are moving in the right direction.

But business simply must keep following the government guidance.

We must not let our guard down.

Even though people are fed up and ground down by the situation, business has to find the balance between health and economic trading.

Businesses have been finding new ways to ensure they don’t put their people in positions of risk. But there is a real risk of fatigue. Sustaining the ongoing effort is a real challenge - both physically and for people’s mental health and well-being.

How can business help?

I think companies can offer support to other businesses. They can for instance choose to pre-purchase vouchers or tickets.

You can also offer support to companies in a way that people don’t normally do.

Perhaps, pick on a business that resonates with your company and support them.

Try and buy in your local shops and with local suppliers is obvious, but so very important to the survival of many of these High Street shops and local businesses.

I know of some of our bigger businesses who are trying to pay their smaller suppliers more quickly to ease their cash flow position. That’s so helpful and can make such a difference when liquidity is at risk.

We must really think and act local.

The Prime Minister’s announcement of a £1,000 payment for December for “wet” pubs - those that don’t serve food- is obviously welcome.

I think there is an inherent unfairness in allowing pubs that serve meals to open and trade - but £1,000 is just not going to be enough to enable many small “wet” pubs to survive.

In my local area in North Somerset where I live, I know our local MP, Liam Fox, has been trying hard to help these small pubs but it is a very challenging situation.

I do think there are some major flaws in the Tier system - there seems to be so many inconsistencies. People are struggling to understand.

This is a marathon, not a sprint and government need to realise that our local health teams and NHS are being pushed right to the limit.

I think mass testing in Bristol will give business greater confidence.

And my message to business is that I feel although we are still in the middle of the pandemic, there is now some light at the end of the tunnel.

We are in the home straight, but that home straight will be quite long.

My plea to companies is to talk to us here at Business West Chambers of Commerce for help and to your local councils.

But over the Christmas period, people will need to think very carefully how they celebrate.  I am afraid this virus will not take Christmas off.

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