Measures to support businesses get back on their feet while helping to keep the rate of infection from COVID-19 down have been addressed in the latest webinar organised by B&NES Council.
The hour-long webinar attracted 100 online guests who were able to ask council leaders, Bath BID and the council’s director for Public Health questions about the social distancing measures, barriers and other measures being put in place to help the city reopen safely.
Businesses and residents are being urged to watch the webinar on the council’s Youtube channel to help understand the “very fine line” between controlling the coronavirus outbreak and allowing life to get back to normal.
Issues covered in the webinar included the barriers the council has installed to enable footpath widening to allow social distancing, their impact on traders, the use of A-boards, licencing for tables and chairs and the need for everyone to play their part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and a second lockdown.
Panellists on the webinar were Councillor Dine Romero, council leader, Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Communities, Councillor Joanna Wright, joint cabinet member for Transport Services, Allison Herbert, chief executive of Bath Business Improvement District and Dr Bruce Laurence, director of Public Health for Bath & North East Somerset.
Dr Bruce Laurence told the webinar that the area had been very affected by the virus but not as much as compared to the rest of the country and was in a good place to keep it that way and improve on the rate of infection.
But he warned: “The one thing all experts do agree on is that we are treading a fairly fine line between controlling the outbreak and letting it rip again and there is very limited room for manoeuvre which is why there are opposing pressures to keep the infection rate down and an equal pressure to bring life back to our business. These pressures are being played out now.”
He stressed that individual behaviour mattered and it was part of the role of the council to encourage people to take measures seriously including basic hygiene and social distancing.
Last week, the council installed barriers in the city centre and in shopping areas including Larkhall, Weston and Moorland Road to enable footpath widening.
From today, Monday 15th June, some city-centre roads will have access restrictions to make it safe for people to walk and queue outside shops as they reopen.
The measures are part of the council’s response to the Government’s instruction to help people safely social distance.
Councillor Joanna Wright, joint cabinet member for Transport Services, told the webinar she recognised the concern among some businesses about the footpath widening measures affecting their business.
She urged people to shop local saying it was the butchers and greengrocers who had done a magnificent job keeping people going during the lockdown and that we should all continue to support them.
She said: “We will be reviewing the decisions we are making, some people like them, others don’t, some people want them to stay and others don’t.
“I don’t want to use the word opportunity because thousands of people have died due to this pandemic but we are now in a situation where we can trial things and we can see if there is a better way to move around our spaces.
“I hope the community takes this moment to help us with that.”
To watch the webinar, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g82QtfuEjCI.