How Coronavirus has affected local business

Stuart Bailey is a senior solicitor based at our Windermere office, specialising in commercial property – retail, leisure and hospitality. He shares his thoughts on how the last 10 months or so have impacted businesses in South Lakes and Cumbria.

“COVID19 has had a devastating impact on the tourism trade in the Lake District. Although the relaxation of restrictions last summer saw a dramatic increase in levels of tourists, uncertainty remained and hospitality, tourism and retail business businesses now face further problems due to the cumulative effects of lockdown 2, Tier 4 and Lockdown 3.

Some businesses were unable able to open at all or have already gone bust, but whilst many did continue to trade when they could, it was with reduced turnover and income.

Businesses have to incur the extra cost of complying with COVID19 measures and some have had to reduce their supply of services to ensure safe distancing and as a result have had to lay off a number of staff. Whilst the extended Furlough scheme has been a welcome lifeline, that and the various grants available may not be enough for some. It will be interesting to see what the local situation will be as we move forward into spring and summer with (hopefully) the vaccine allowing the industry to open up again.

Most businesses have had to bring in measures to ensure that they are Covid Secure. Despite masks and social distancing becoming the norm, there have sadly been reports of customers failing to comply and indeed there has been a noticeable increase in numbers of staff being subjected to verbal abuse.

Recently the Supreme Court has ruled (on appeal) that a number of insurers should pay out under their disruption insurance policies which will be a boost for some businesses. I am following this story with interest and hope that it does bring the anticipated pay outs that might make all the difference to some.

Despite the doom and gloom, there does seem to be positivity that we can bounce back. Visitor research carried out by Cumbria Tourism suggests consistently high levels of guest satisfaction and an intention for people to return when it is safe to do so. After all, the fells, lakes and beautiful Cumbrian scenery will still be there. Whether all the shops, bars, cafes and restaurants that serve the tourists will be there too is of course another matter. But some are learning from the pandemic and adapting their business models so, there is reason to be positive.”

Thomson Hayton Winkley are a Strategic Partner of Cumbria Tourism and can assist any tourism related business with their legal needs. CT Members are entitled to free advice via the Members Helpline.

Published 20 January 2021

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