Neil Parish welcomes the cautious easing of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of hospitality and tourism businesses.
From July 4th, pubs and restaurants, as well as tourism businesses and some attractions will be allowed to reopen- providing they strictly adhere to Covid-19 guidelines. Neil has been working closely with Devon County Council, Mid Devon and East Devon District Councils, as well as his fellow Devon MPs to ensure businesses receive the guidance they need to reopen safely.
Writing in his monthly column for the Express and Echo newspaper, Neil has called upon the public to show their support for local businesses, as part of efforts to kickstart Britain's economy and spark the national recovery.
"The past four months has been an extremely challenging time for our highstreets. The image of empty streets and “Closed due to Covid” signs posted on shop fronts will be a key recollection of the pandemic in years to come.
The Government’s comprehensive support financial packages- the Small Business Grants Fund and the Business Rates holiday- have helped many businesses weather the storm. Indeed, the determination of our local authorities to distribute funding have saved many from seemingly inevitable closure. However, one critical element has been missing: customers.
The reopening of the retail sector on June 15th came as a much-needed relief to Devon businesses. For the first time, shop owners safely welcomed back shoppers through their doors. I have been bowled over by the response from the sector to effectively adapt to the “new normal”.
Gone are the closure signs, replaced with vital reminders to maintain social distancing. One-way systems have been implemented, hand sanitiser points and protective perspex shields installed- all for our safety. These efforts are testament to the ability of British business to adapt to a testing situation. It is now time for us, as eager customers, to safely return to our local highstreets, back local suppliers, and buy British produce.
Similarly, we must ensure we support local hospitality businesses. A sigh of relief was felt by many pubs, restaurants and cafes at the announcement that from this Saturday, they can reopen. I know many will be keenly awaiting their first meal out or indeed a cold pint in the sunshine. Let us help spark the national recovery effort by supporting our locals.
The herculean efforts of our local NHS teams, and the collective efforts of residents, have contributed to South West having one of the lowest trends of Covid-19 cases in the country. As cases drop further and the restrictions are eased, I believe Devon is a prime position to welcome back visitors.
I have been working closely with Devon County Council, our district councils and fellow Devon MPs, to ensure the hospitality sector and communities receive the support they need to carry out a safe transition. Tourism contributes over £2 billion per year to Devon’s economy. “Staycations” are a fantastic opportunity for the sector to bounce-back from the challenges Coronavirus has presented.
However, we must not forget the disease remains active. Constant vigilance is required to combat the dangers it poses. Across all sectors, the combined the efforts of businesses and government are paving the way for a strong recovery. I look forward to supporting our newly reopened businesses and safely welcoming back visitors to the South West."