MP and BID step up for St Albans businesses which could fold due to coronavirus

St Albans city centre - one of the areas which would come under the article 4 powers

St Albans city centre - one of the areas which would come under the article 4 powers - Credit: Archant

St Albans councillors, the BID (Business Improvement District) and MP Daisy Cooper are out in force to support small businesses, as many in the city will be on the verge of closure by the end of the week.

Amid the uncertainty brought by the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has strongly recommended social distancing, asking people – particularly those most vulnerable – to avoid pubs, clubs and restaurants, and schools are set to be closed from Friday onwards.

Liberal Democrat councillor and portfolio holder for business, tourism and culture, Mandy McNeil said: “The issue that we have right now is that most of our retail will close within a week.

“They are all part of a Whatsapp chat, so we are dealing in real time with people who are trying to make decisions about this.

“What the government has done isn’t helping. We are trying to do is make shopping in St Albans virtual, so people can still shop local but online.

“We are going to have a lot of businesses sending out crowdfunding requests, similar to the ‘Stick One In’ campaign for the pubs.

“We are going to be pushing this. From my perspective it’s hard for the retail and hospitality sector to have a voice. They are family owned, and they have their budgets so it’s really hard for them.”

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The Enjoy St Albans tourism website will be used to create a ‘virtual destination’ for St Albans district, encouraging those who are working from home to continue to shop from local cafés, pubs and restaurants.

Aletter from the St Albans Retail and Hospitality industry to Daisy Cooper said: “Please guarantee the wages of the staff and owners of small businesses and those in the community who have nothing for a short period while our country recovers, our country will then be in a much better position to face the future.

It also includes a comment from Infuse Restaurant owner, Sameer Berry, who said: “In these extremely testing times we need your help and support more than ever. Our survival and livelihood of our employees is in your hands.”

Daisy Cooper has been in parliament today asking the government to take immediate action to support small businesses during the crisis.