AS expected and I think most would think correctly, the lockdown has been extended, and the pressure on businesses and the economy continues with no obvious end date in sight.

My own experience is that those able to stay open have done so, with many adapting the way they operate in order to keep trading, with many also helping the community. Those that can work from home have also adapted and settled into alternative ways of working, and those that cannot continue have taken the option of furloughing staff in order that they can keep the business alive to help the economy in the future.

The support from government has generally been considered good, although we all hope that amendments will be introduced to catch those that have fallen through the net. The council has also been doing a good job. They were quick to get information out, the grant applications are being dealt with efficiently, and they are being proactive in trying to contact those eligible businesses who have not yet made their application.

Discussion is now changing from dealing with the shutdown to how we can move forward while still keeping customers and employees safe. It would seem inevitable that social distancing will be with us for some time yet and each sector will have to have a different approach.

Some can perhaps take a lead from the supermarkets who have had to learn and adapt quickly, but the success of this has much to do with the size and layout of premises and having staff to manage it. Not all will be able to achieve it. Timed access has been discussed, but the cost of running and staffing a business which as a consequence will have a reduced customer turnover will have economic implications which may make it unviable.

There is a lot to consider and sharing best practice will be essential, but the key will be to get demand back, people back and confidence back as a ‘money no object’ approach is to my mind a short term fix but not sustainable in the long term.

President, Taunton Chamber of Commerce