Forever Edinburgh: How we are helping our city to recover from Covid – Adam McVey
The city is reawakening this August but in a very different way to our usual creative explosion of art, music, theatre and comedy.
In normal times, August is when our city becomes a metropolis like no other, with “her off the telly” sitting at the next table as you grab a panini before the next show starts. This year our festivals have produced some brilliant online performances and I’d encourage everyone to take a look and access art. Edinburgh has one of the highest participation rates in the arts anywhere in the world and it’s due to amazing breadth of shows on offer in August. Edinburgh has an artist soul at its heart unmatched anywhere else.
Despite this August looking very different to our usual, it also looks very different to the last five months. This month has seen a reawakening of our city’s businesses and with restrictions slowly and carefully being lifted, it’s seen more of us being able to get out and about and enjoy our capital again.
This month the city has launched “Forever Edinburgh” – a campaign to support our local businesses in the city centre and across our communities. Reminding us of all Edinburgh has to offer and highlighting some of the gems that we might not have visited before. Many of us are understandably nervous about travelling and won’t have a holiday away but luckily for us our city has everything here to make a staycation full of fun – even in these challenging times. Businesses have done an outstanding job in getting ready for reopening. Our hotels have put in significant changes to allow people to stay in comfort and safety. Our council officers have spoken directly to thousands of bars, cafes, restaurant and shops to make sure everyone complies and understands the guidance to keep customers safe.
You will be asked to give some personal details when enjoying our city’s offer to ensure public health officials can track and trace any outbreak. You will also be asked to continue to wear face coverings on public transport, in shops and a range of other circumstances. All this is not only keep you safe, it’s to ensure we don’t go backwards and continue to make process which will allow normality to return bit by bit.
We know from the enormous amount of work required in getting our schools reopened that this has taken a great deal of effort and I’m grateful to our businesses for doing such a great job in managing their reopening.
The First Minister is right to take a balanced, cautious approach. This should give us confidence to support our businesses as they reopen. It should give us confidence to use public transport, send our kids to schools and meet our friends and family – as long as we follow guidance in doing so. In the coming days and weeks more facilities will reopen including our libraries, community centres, swimming pools and gyms.
Like August, our winter festivals will look very different too. The proposals for this year take a smaller, more spread out approach with a strong focus on supporting local businesses. Despite the need to support local traders these events still may not happen. They will only take place if public health guidance says it’s safe to go ahead. While we hope to be able to celebrate the end of 2020 as a city, public safety is the first and last consideration.
Covid continues to be the biggest challenge many of us have ever faced, but through it all we have supported vulnerable people in our communities and our local businesses. Pre-Covid, during and after we are Forever Edinburgh.
Cllr Adam McVey is the leader of Edinburgh City Council
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