The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is today launching the next phase of its Open for Business, Safely campaign, to help businesses bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign promotes the steps shops, cafes, gyms, beauty salons, transport providers and others have put in place to make their places safe to welcome back customers. Having first launched last month, Open for Business, Safely aims to help make visitors, shoppers, and workers feel more confident when venturing out following the gradual lifting of restrictions.
Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, Andy Street, is visiting the Black Country Living Museum today (Monday May 17 at 3pm), to mark the second phase of the campaign as the latest relaxation of coronavirus restrictions come into force.
Accompanied by Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, he will be meeting the museum’s chief executive Andrew Lovett who will be giving the pair a tour around the attraction, followed by a visit to the Glass and Bottle pub.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has hit our region particularly hard, and left many of our businesses in a perilous position. Therefore, as restrictions ease and more venues are allowed to open fully, it is critical that we do what we can to help businesses bounce back quickly.
“By highlighting the steps they have taken to make themselves Covid-secure, we hope it will help visitors, shoppers, and workers feel more confident in returning to venues across the West Midlands.
“This is particularly important for the hospitality and tourism sectors, which have been extremely badly hit by the pandemic. The sectors, which are a very important part of our region’s economy, employ a high number of young people and women who currently face an uncertain future or may have already very sadly lost their jobs. It is therefore critical we get these sectors back to full strength ASAP to help protect people’s jobs and create new ones for those who have fallen out of work. Our Open for Business, Safely campaign aims to help do exactly that.”
Today’s visit to the Black Country Museum, which is also currently being used as an NHS vaccination centre for people who have an existing appointment, marks step three of the Government’s roadmap out of the current coronavirus restrictions. From today (May 17th) indoor areas can reopen at hospitality venues and entertainment and visitor attractions, including museums and galleries, as long as they comply with Covid-secure guidance.
As well as his visit to the Black Country Living Museum, the Mayor will also be having a working breakfast at Yorks Café in Birmingham city centre, and opening Domo, a new boutique hotel in Oldbury, as part of the Open for Business, Safely campaign.
Henrietta Brealey, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “Today marks a significant step towards enabling businesses in the hospitality sector to resume playing a vital role in the success of the regional economy and the well-being of the people who live here.
“The Chamber has been vigorous in its support of businesses in this sector as they now pick up the pieces following the devastating impact of the lockdown forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are delighted to join the mayor and the West Midlands Combined Authority in championing our fantastic local business community and wish all those re-opening today the utmost success.”
Using the hashtag #WMOpen4Biz local companies are being encouraged to share on social media details of the preparations they have made so they can invite customers and members of staff back on to their premises safely.
Cllr Ian Brookfield, WMCA portfolio lead for economy and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “It is wonderful that the next step is being taken in reopening our region, giving a much-needed boost to our economy.
“I encourage businesses to get onboard with the Open for Business, Safely campaign and demonstrate how they’ve worked hard to make the West Midlands a safe place to do businesses and to promote what they have to offer.”
Businesses can get involved in the Open for Business Safely campaign by using their social media accounts with the tag @WestMids_CA and the hashtag #WMOpen4Biz to show what they have done to make their business or offices COVID-secure.
This can include measures such as social distancing floor stickers and hand sanitising stations. They can put up a #WMOpen4Biz poster in their workplace to get across the message they are safe to visit. Local authorities, public bodies, business organisations and charities are also being encouraged to get involved by posting their support online.
Customers are also being asked to take part in the campaign by posting selfies - wearing a face covering - as they return to the shops, pubs and cafes using the hashtag #WMOpen4Biz which will be shared via the WMCA’s social media accounts.
Meanwhile, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the WMCA, is continuing to undertake a wide range of measures to keep public transport safe for passengers.