Coronavirus Business Support
2020 has been extremely tough with the impact of flooding and Coronavirus. The York Business Improvement District (BID), Make It York and the City of York Council have been co-ordinating efforts to ensure business owners have information on how to access help and safely operate their businesses.
Extended footstreets, clear signage, utilising open spaces, city-wide hand sanitiser units, and the city host programme all make up a package of measures introduced by the BID and City of York Council to make the city stronger and safer.
Working in partnership with the City Council, the BID have focused their post lockdown programmes on providing measures which will support the city’s businesses, many of them retail and hospitality, while emphasising safety.
Re-establishing public confidence required practical and visible evidence of the safety measures being taken.
Safely welcoming visitors back into the city means re-imagining it under social distancing. As people return to the city in greater numbers, it is essential that hospitality can operate profitably. Hospitality also has a symbiotic relationship with the retail sector, offering an integrated experience for visitors.
The BID has been working with groups of businesses to understand their needs in different areas of the city, and how the best use of the outdoor space available could help them.
This has led to conversations between traders in many parts of the city with the local authority about how to collectively develop shared use of the available public space.
These conversations, together with the Business and Planning Bill introduced by the Government, has provided valuable support for many pubs, cafés and restaurants to place tables and chairs on the pavement outside their premises, expanding their capacity beyond their physical constraints.
College Green pop-up
College Green was identified as an area of open space with potential to support the hospitality businesses of Goodramgate, many of which are housed in historic buildings with limited outside space. The land is owned by York Minster, which was keen to support the BID and explore how the space could be utilised in a more structured way to serve the immediate business community.
For 8 weeks during the summer, a tipi-style tent provided by local company PapaKata was erected on the green, with tables and chairs located both inside and out. The site was fully managed, and received an overwhelmingly positive response from businesses and the public.
"Well done to all concerned. A great idea and a welcome addition to the city centre in a particularly difficult summer!"
@yorkcyclingtour via Twitter
Wes Taylor runs Fancy Hanks on Goodramgate and welcomes the College Green Pop-Up by the BID;
“I think the shared hospitality tent on College Green is an excellent idea. All hospitality businesses are currently running at a lower capacity than usual due to social distancing guidance. It is a great way to give us all a little extra space to make up the loss in business we are currently experiencing. It is also another outdoor space for the people of York and visitors to enjoy themselves in a spacious and safe environment.”
The changes make access to city centre restaurants, pubs, cafes, shops and businesses easier, and allow the space required for social distancing while moving safely around the city.
Following feedback from businesses, The BID provided clear signage for the pedestrianised street barriers, ensuring the measures are communicated effectively while remaining attractive to visitors.
Barrier covers were supplied to Blake Street, Goodramgate, Fossgate and Castlegate.
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Transport, said:
“Introducing this footstreets extension is an important step to improve access to the city centre in a safe and easy fashion, as well as making the most of the most of the opportunities to support our businesses and help our residents to shop local in these difficult times.
“This action is crucial to help keep residents and visitors safe, in line with latest government guidance, and give you confidence to enjoy everything our wonderful city has to offer.”
Hand Sanitiser Stations
Additional measures to increase public confidence are the implementation of 17 hand sanitiser stations strategically placed across the city’s main squares and thoroughfares.
Andrew Lowson, Executive Director of York BID, said, “It is critical that people returning to the city centre feel comfortable and safe, and these units will enable everyone to practice good hygiene standards as they go about the city.”
The York BID organised the City Host programme in recognition that the more resource we can provide to offer advice to locals and visitors, the stronger and safer our city is going to be.
The City Hosts came from a pool of City of York Council volunteers. They are York residents with good knowledge of the city, who can provide a friendly advice service to the public. This advice may be in the form of directions or knowledge of the cities processes and restrictions in the changed environment.
100 volunteers acted as hosts over 11 weeks, with 4 co-ordinators liaising with Carl Alsop, Operations Manager at The BID.
Carl said of the scheme, “We’re really pleased with the way the scheme has gone and have had a lot of positive feedback. Because of this we are planning to bring the hosts back again for the Christmas period when we anticipate visitor numbers will increase.”
Central Government Support
The Chancellor set out a package of measures to help businesses through this period of disruption.
This Government 'Coronavirus Finacial Support' website offers further information about the support available: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
- Bounce Back Loans
- Cash grants for small businesses
- Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
- York Council Fund for Small & Micro Businesses
- Business Rates Holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses (including nurseries)
- Support for employee wages
- Rebates for sick pay to employees due to Coronavirus
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
- Support for businesses paying tax: Time To Pay service
Self-employment Income Support Scheme: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/self-employment-income-support-scheme/
Government Guidance for Employers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
Arts Council england Cultural Sector Support: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19