West Midlands re-opens for business

WMCA campaign highlights the region’s Covid-secure businesses.

The West Midlands Combined Authority is kicking off a new campaign to highlight the measures local businesses are taking to make their premises Covid-secure.

The campaign, called Open for Business, Safely, will promote the steps that shops, cafes, gyms, beauty salons, transport providers and others have put in place to make their premises safe as they prepare to welcome back customers.

The campaign has been created to help make shoppers and workers feel more confident when venturing out following the lifting of some restrictions yesterday as England moved to step two of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Shops are now allowed to stay open until 10pm from Monday to Saturday in a bid to spread out shopping and avoid congestion. Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality can also reopen but customers must sit outdoors and be served via table service.

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.

Julia Goldsworthy, the WMCA’s director of strategy, said: “The West Midlands is Open for Business and by following Government guidance, all of us can now shop and work safely.

“No one is better placed than business to demonstrate the measures they have put in place to make sure they are COVID-secure and to promote what they have to offer.

“This campaign aims to show how businesses have worked hard to prepare for the second step of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown and that residents and workers alike can feel confident in their efforts.”

The WMCA is asking businesses to go online and use 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.

But local companies don’t need to be on social media to get involved, instead they can put up a #WMOpen4Biz poster in their workplace to get across the message they are safe to visit.

The WMCA is also asking local authorities, public bodies, business organisations and charities to get involved by posting their support online help to reach more local audiences.

The campaign, which also encourages people to follow the Government ‘hands, face, space’ advice, is being backed by the region’s business leaders.

Tony Elvin, general manager of the Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull, said: “We can’t wait to safely welcome visitors back to Touchwood and that’s why we’re supporting this campaign.

“We recognise that safety is the number one priority for guests visiting Touchwood so our stores and hospitality venues are all Covid-secure having completed their own specific risk assessments.

“The measures in place to keep shoppers safe during their visit include screens at the tills, a one-way systems to aid social distancing, a Covid-secure visitor capacity limit for the centre, readily available alcohol gel, an enhanced cleaning regime and additional staffing to ensure mask compliance and to respond to any queries..

“We’ve also got plenty of signage in place reminding our visitors to wear a face covering, keep their distance, wash their hands regularly, not to visit if they have any Covid symptoms, and to follow Government advice.”

Essential businesses have been open throughout the pandemic ensuring their staff can travel and work safely. Travel for West Midlands, which is part of the WMCA, continues to undertake a wide range of measures to keep public transport safe for passengers.

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.