Celebrate, safely, this May bank holiday!
This bank holiday weekend will be unusual to say the least. The bank holiday itself was moved to Friday, to allow the nation to celebrate Victory in Europe day (VE Day) on the actual 75th anniversary itself. And yet here we are, unable to celebrate as we would normally do, having to stay in our homes and continue to observe social distancing.
The VE Day celebrations are all about commemorating the past sacrifices that led to victory in WWII. In 2020, we find ourselves witnessing and making our own sacrifices, in the midst of this pandemic.
However, please do not let the lockdown count for nothing. Celebrate safely, stay home, save lives and continue to observe social distancing guidelines. I shared some online resources in my last message to help you have a virtual VE Day and here are some more available online (https://www.veday75.org/).
We know that we will soon have an announcement from government about how schools could begin to open to more children. This will be on a carefully phased basis, but other than that, there are very few details available. We are already working closely with Head teachers on the many issues that will have to be thought through, so that any change happens safely for children and school staff. This will be an important step, as part of the overall national strategy for relaxing some lockdown restrictions.
Also, on Sunday it seems likely we may get the government’s view of how, in other areas, we can safely emerge from the lockdown and get back to business. Much is still not known about this virus, however, and we need to recognise that it won’t simply be a return to how we were before the pandemic; we really cannot afford a second wave, particularly as we head to the winter months later this year.
To help us plan for the post-lockdown world, we will be publishing our Economic Recovery Plan next week, which focuses on three main themes – supporting our people, our places and business.
Solihull is an economic success and we have to protect and build on this legacy. As we come out of lockdown, we have to reshape the growth momentum of recent years by maximising the benefits of HS2 and the Interchange Station area, accelerating investment into the Hub and ensuring our local supply chains can benefit from this activity.
We also have to work with retailers and businesses in our town centres, to make sure that customers and workers feel safe, that businesses are prepared and well equipped to deal with social distancing, and to deal with the change in market and consumer demands.
I’ve mentioned before the £21m of financial support that we have given our businesses and we will continue to support them with access to the latest finance initiatives from government, as well as any available regionally and locally. We will also work with our partners, other business groups, such as Solihull Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Business, the Local Enterprise Partnership and West Midlands Combined Authority to lever in any other support we can.
Finally, I hope you all have a great May bank holiday, and manage to join in the VE Day celebrations, remembering to observe social distancing and stay safe.
My wish to you all for good health, happiness and harmony: stay home, protect our NHS and save lives.