Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Newspaper column 1 July 2020 - Further lockdown easing

This coming weekend marks a significant step in our progress out of the lockdown. From Saturday pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to open, along with holiday accommodation.

Whilst I understand the concerns some people have regarding the risk of an influx of tourists to Cornwall, I believe it is right that we take these steps, with sensible precautions in place, to open up our local economy. Thousands of Cornish jobs depend on us doing so.

I also understand the worries that are created by some of the scenes we have seen in places such as Bournemouth of packed beaches and clogged roads. However, I do think we need to keep these scenes in context. The vast majority of those who went to visit Bournemouth were day trippers heading to the coast on the hottest day of the year. This is not something we are likely to experience – one of the benefits of being a further three hours drive west.

Additionally, these events happened at a time when all hospitality businesses were still closed and therefore there was little for people to do other than head to the beach. The situation from 4th July will be very different.

Our local businesses have been working hard to ensure they are ready to welcome customers in a safe way. I have spent much of the last week on video calls with different businesses and industry representatives discussing how best we can welcome tourist and give them a positive experience whilst minimising the risks. I am confident our local businesses are taking all the appropriate measures to do this.

I have been assured that local holiday accommodation providers will be reminding all their guest of their duty to behave responsibly and respect local communities – this includes taking their rubbish with them when they leave the beach! 

But inevitably we will see many more people out and about from this weekend – visitors and locals. We do all need to continue to follow the guidance – maintain social distancing, washing our hands and avoiding large crowds. We all have a responsibility to conduct ourselves in a sensible way and not do anything to put ourselves or others at unnecessary risk.

It is also going to be a challenging time for local businesses, especially our pubs and restaurants, who will have to adapt to meet the new guidance. This means that those of us who do go out for a drink or meal, to meet up with friends, perhaps for the first time in months, should be prepared that things will not be the same as they were in March.

Businesses will be having to limit the number of customers they allow in at any one time. Some people will have to sit outside – let’s hope the weather is kind. The way we order food and drink, and they way it is served to us will be different. Tables will have to be spread out, we may find screens keeping us separate from other groups and staff wearing PPE.

All of these measures are there to keep us safe. I know at times it may be frustrating, but let us all keep in mind that these businesses are following the guidance issued by the government and their trade bodies. All of these measures are in place for a reason – an important one. We should not take out our frustrations on the staff if they are too busy to allow us in or we cannot sit with whoever we like, or it takes longer than normal to get served.

Many of the staff who will be serving us have faced hugely uncertain times over the past three months.

I am confident that if we all apply common sense and abide by the new guidelines, we can all enjoy the new freedoms available. In fact, I would encourage us all to do so and get out and support local business.

Finally, my office is beginning to return to a more normal way of working. Please remember my staff and I are here to help and serve you. So if you have anything that we can help with, provide you with information or advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Email – tel. 01726 829379