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And getting it right will mean the difference of it being a successful one for the city – or seeing the city suffer.
Bill Addy, CEO of the Liverpool Business Improvement District (BID) is encouraging people to come into the city, but to plan their visits to help everyone stay safe: “This isn’t about going out on a pub crawl, or going out on the lash. It’s about going out for a meal, or a drink – and planning where you want to go to beforehand. It’s about a Safe Saturday, not a Super Saturday.
“So much rests on people doing this, and us getting it right.
“The visitor economy is worth £3.3bn, it provides 38,000 jobs and £270m in business rates paid to the city council. So much, and so many, depend on this weekend being a success.”
But Bill is hopeful we can get it right.
He says: “Liverpool is a community. Liverpool people look after each other.
“Liverpool has rebuilt from the blitz. It has rebuilt from the recession of the ‘70s and ‘80s, and again from the early 2000s.
“We can do it again. And, with everyone’s help, we will.”
WE ARE LIVERPOOL ??
— The Guide Liverpool (@TheGuideLpool) June 15, 2020
Bill has urged people to consider their visits to the city carefully. “By no means is the pandemic over, there is no end of lockdown,” he says. “But we have the ability to ease it, in particular for restaurants and bars, and to do it within secure guidelines.
“But if people are coming into town, plan your visit more carefully. Think about your favourite restaurant, or where you want to go, and check if they are open and whether you need to book.
“Speak to them. Check how you are going to get there. Pack your hand sanitiser and your face covering. Let’s be careful. We don’t want to see a repeat of what we saw at the Pier Head, we don’t want to see large crowds of people drinking.
“We want Liverpool to be seen as a great example of how to recover from Covid, with a calm and measured response. Yes we want to see people come out and enjoy themselves, but the wrong activity this weekend could lead to a local lockdown and that is the last thing our city, and its economy, needs.”
Covid has stalled a resurgence that was going full steam ahead.
“Liverpool is a great city and it has come on leaps and bounds in the last decade,” he says. “Prior to Covid we were looking forward to an exciting year. 2020 was going to be a great year.”
Re-creating that success is paramount to the city’s future, he says.
City leaders have been working on a ‘Liverpool Without Walls’ project to ‘re-design’ city centre areas like Bold Street and Castle street with ‘parklets’ and where vehicles will be blocked from entering and businesses given more space outside to counter social distancing issues, and help them operate and encourage customers safely.
People need to be able to come into the city – the city needs to re-open safely, stresses Bill. And more rests on that than where people will go ‘for a bevvy’.
“The issue is whether people are going to have jobs come October. If we don’t have an opening that’s measured, and if people aren’t responsible, we will get lockdowns which will lead to the slowing down of our economy and the loss of jobs.
“We need to ensure that businesses can succeed in a different environment. We don’t want to see empty streets because then we will see the unemployment rates that we saw in the ‘80s.”
Bill says the re-opening of shops in the city centre has gone well although footfall is still 55-60% below what it would normally be.
“There’s a long way to go,” he adds. “People are still reluctant to come. It’s quiet. But I think we are looking longterm.
“We are showing reasonable footfall figures and spending levels, the sales are already a little bit better, and I think we can take encouragement from that providing people consider their actions and each other, providing we don’t have another spike.
“If we can rely on that this is the start of Liverpool’s new future. This weekend is the next phase of the Liverpool story.
“And we can do it again.”
This time, though, he says it’s not just about financial help: “It’s about the simple things that all of us can do.”
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