Friday May 8, 2020
As we approach the weekend, it is time to turn another page on the COVID-19 saga. It has been a week of announcements and revelations.
First, was the announcement last Friday evening that restrictions were to be loosened from Tuesday and that of itself gave us a glimmer of hope. The Roadmap was also revealed to give businesses a sense of where they stand in the context of re-opening, and although for some the future remains very bleak given the late timings for the re-opening of their sectors, coupled with profit shaving physical distancing requirements, it has given business owners clearer parameters in which to do the maths and make the tough decisions.
Saturday saw the announcement of support measures for SMEs. The additional financial supports for businesses, particularly SMEs, who have been impacted by COVID-19 were welcomed. The headline supports range from waivers on commercial rates, grant aid, a loan guarantee scheme and supports for businesses who have tax liabilities. As ever, the devil is in the detail and until that detail is revealed we won’t know just how meaningful the measures are, and whether they go far enough.
When it came to revelations this week, the Ennis Chamber /Clare FM business survey for County Clare grabbed plenty of headlines. For those of you interested in reading the headline results follow this link https://www.ennischamber.ie/results-published-of-local-covid-19-survey-conducted-by-ennis-chamber-in-association-with-clarefm/ and for those of you who want to drill down further into the research findings, follow this link: https://www.ennischamber.ie/covid-19-business-survey-result/
Apart from extensive news coverage and live interviews with our media partner Clare FM, a team representing Ennis Chamber were also interviewed for Drivetime on RTE Radio 1, broadcast on Wednesday. To listen to the interview with Allen Flynn (President Ennis Chamber, Darragh, McAllister, Vice-President, Gwen Culligan Ex-officio President and myself as CEO follow this link: https://www.bit.ly/2YGTmVp
Some of the survey research findings made for grim reading, but we had expected that, and to deal with current issues and to lobby in ‘the now’ we need to have a good handle on the facts, and this comprehensive survey certainly satisfied that brief.
The popular headline grabber was the result of a question, to be answered by Ennis-based businesses only, which saw just over 70% of respondents say ‘yes’, when asked if Ennis town centre would need to be pedestrianised in order to accommodate physical distancing. It is important to note that this question was asked in the context of re-opening our town in these COVID-19 days and as such was about temporary pedestrianisation, but nonetheless showed that business owners may be willing to put aside traditional objections to pedestrianisation knowing that narrowness of our footpaths will make physical distancing almost impossible. As one respondent summed it up, “if this is what it takes to survive, we will have to do it”.
On Wednesday, Allen Flynn as President of Ennis Chamber, Sean Lally as Chair of Promote Ennis and myself as CEO of Ennis Chamber attended the inaugural meeting of a task force to discuss a mobility plan for the re-opening of Ennis town centre. The group with representation from Tidy Towns, Irish Vintners Federation, Retail Excellence and Age Friendly Ennis was chaired by Carmel Kirby, Director, Physical Infrastructure, it also included Mayor of Ennis, Cllr. Johnny Flynn, and SEO Ennis Municipal District, Leonore O’Neill, plus Sergeant Brendan Lyons representing An Garda Siochana.
The group meets again to advance discussions next week. If you have any issues you would like to see raised at that meeting please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our attendance is on your behalf, we therefore urge you to use this opportunity to make your voice and opinions heard.
Finally, with the good weather set to continue today and tomorrow, I hope you get the chance to relax and enjoy it.
Have a lovely weekend and mind yourselves!