Last Updated: 09 Jun 2020 11:55am
We have reached a critical moment in the battle to beat coronavirus. After more than two months of enforced closures, the restrictions are gradually being eased and from next week many of our shops and businesses will re-open for the first time since March.
In Tonbridge and Malling we have been fortunate to have recorded among the lowest infection rates anywhere in Kent. Our thanks must go to everyone who has stuck to the rules and played their part and also to the many organisations and volunteers who have made life possible under lockdown.
The stringent measures put in place and our collective willingness to observe them has undoubtedly saved many lives. It is important to stress, however, that we are not out of the woods. The virus is still present in our community and poses a threat to every one of us.
Now as the restrictions are eased, we must continue with our collective effort to keep the virus at bay and avoid a second spike in the infection rate. At Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, we will continue to play our part by adapting how we deliver our services safely in areas such as waste collection, planning, licencing, housing and health.
We’ll also continue our support for those hardest hit by the pandemic. We’ve already distributed nearly £20 million in government funding to help businesses and are now offering discretionary grants to those who were not eligible first time round. We’ve also contacted more than 4,000 shielded households to offer assistance and distributed hundreds of food parcels to those in need. With council meetings having resumed online, we’re pushing ahead with important developments in areas such as economic regeneration, responding to climate change and repairing our own finances which have been badly hit.
Now, as our towns and local retail centres start to re-open, we’ll be there for them too, providing advice and practical measures needed to help keep them, their staff and customers safe. There will be extra signage reminding people of the need to social distance and high street support teams out and about to offer information and reassurance. We’ll listen to feedback from retailers and shoppers and consider any further measures that may be needed to help our retail centres function safely.
While things will be different and social distancing the new norm, shopping locally and safely is the best way we can support local businesses and breathe life back into our local economy.
If everyone works collaboratively and acts responsibly I’m confident we can continue to make progress and navigate the road to recovery. By working together and observing the rules, we can make our towns and villages safe and welcoming spaces once again.