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Cornwall Council ‘holding hands and speaking up’ for business as new Covid regulations settle in

Cornwall Council’s enforcement and public protection teams have responded to the fast-changing economic landscape by helping Cornwall’s business owners to make sense of the recent additional Covid regulatory requirements - including the new track and trace app and early (10pm) closing for pubs, bars and restaurants.

Yesterday, in the first of a programme of town centre walkabouts, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Rob Nolan, joined officers who work in departments including licensing, trading standards, food safety, community safety and parking enforcement to meet the traders of Truro in informal visits to the city’s shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

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These town centre walkabouts will be supplemented with briefings and a webinar next Tuesday 29 September, and an updated version of the Council’s ‘Bounce Back to Business’ guide, which is available online now.

Rob Nolan said: “It was an eye-opener to discuss with local traders and hospitality workers their reactions to this week’s news and how Cornwall’s businesses large and small are going to cope over the coming months.”

“Having arranged these walkabouts promptly after the Prime Minister brought in the 10pm curfew for dining and drinking out, and on the day the NHS Test and Trace App rolled out, we found ourselves talking to businesses at the very time the Chancellor was outlining his keenly-awaited replacement for the furlough scheme.”

“We were very much in ‘encourage, engage and educate’ mode, and there to assist and advise those we spoke to, although Council officers do have enforcement powers to deal with breaches of Covid requirements, which will be used if necessary. We had numerous positive conversations with businesses that clearly wish to comply to protect public health, but are also anxious about future profitability and employment”.

Rob and the team had chats with takeaway and coffee shop businesses unsure of the how the new regulations applied to table service, some with seating inside and outside. The display of the new NHS QR posters at businesses was much in evidence, but there was uncertainty about its application.

Pubs were anxious about the loss of their later hours trade, and what may happen on the streets and with private parties after earlier last orders are called. Some businesses, such as kebab houses and other takeaways, depend largely on late evening trade.

Rob added: “A controversial point seemed to be the new earlier closing, where pub customers and students may just go off and drink at home with their mates instead, raising social distancing and ‘rule of six’ concerns. There is much about this new era that now needs to be closely watched and evaluated. Most of the businesses we spoke to are rightly supportive, but also anxious. We will hold their hands in terms of the regulations and compliance, and amplify their voices by speaking up for them to Government.”