THERE is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for struggling companies in the Cotswolds after a third national lockdown was announced on Monday.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes have closed, but restaurants probably carry on to offer delivery or takeaway. Essential retailers such as supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, builders merchants may stay open, however non essential shops must close.
One of those heavily troubled by the pandemic is the Barn Theatre in Cirencester. The theatre has had to adapt to the new normal, with virtual showings and outdoor performances.
Iwan Lewis, CEO and artist director of The Barn said: “If there is one thing simple fact that Barn Theatre has learned from 2020 it’s how to be adaptable and we will prove that again during this national lockdown. We are fortunate that during year we have dedicated so much the perfect time to our digital offerings we will carry on evolving by creating and providing high quality entertainment following the government guidance.
“We have perceived the light at the end of the tunnel of your positive news about the vaccines and thus we will use this time wisely to assure we don’t have a standing start on the other side.
“We still have financial worries and thank our supporters for their unwavering support.
“Let’s do what we can to support our NHS and key workers and communicate to beat this as a community. ”
Jak Doggett is one half of the culinary duo Sam & Jak.
They operate the restaurant, Firehouse at Upton and also manage a successful catering company.
“January is a notoriously slow month in the hospitality trade but we were of course looking forward to developing the market as had received some excellent reviews in the latter part of 2020.
“Unlike customers lockdown we are all (the trade) a trifle better prepared, we were always taking early January off anyway as my business partner Sam’s partner is expecting their first child.
“We are employing the time to plan ahead, build on our successes and continue to grow. It is frustrating but we understand that to get out the other side stronger restrictions have to be in place. ”
John Henry is the director of their Cirencester based Apprenticeship Management Group.
The group supply support services to over two thousand employers with over a million employees and are one of the leading providers of the governments Kickstart initiative.
Mr Henry said: “Although not quite as immediately shocking as the first lockdown the latest stay at home demands have raised greater concerns for both employers and their apprentices.
“Many have just re-established themselves proper work routine, incorporating PPE and social distancing, but will again test the sustainability of hard pressed businesses for many reasons.
“Whilst employers within the sector permit you to continue to supply to a relatively buoyant construction sector, the number of colleagues that’ll coexist within the merchants and distributors is a consideration that must be addressed.
“As the young apprentice is often the last in there’re fear that they may be the first out.
“Thankfully, excellent planning, within the working environment, part time furlough options and the support of trade associations have helped alleviate some concerns the creeping although the price of national insurance and pension contributions transferred to the employer means that a conscious decision must now be made for every and every employee.
“Kickstart and apprenticeship incentives have generated renewed interest in planning the future intake of young people for a lot of employers but the inability to meet, interview and scope new job roles will have an impact.
“The prospect of a vaccine roll out is obviously an extremely positive focal point.
“I would urge employers to plan their employment an engage with many of these initiatives now rather than in 90 days or so.
“It will take some time to advertise and source the most useful candidates for your business so plan now either through Kickstart if you are not sure or the apprenticeship route if you remain confident of a positive bounce back. ”