Roddy Smith: ‘Our city centre has started its recovery, come in and see for yourself’
This Monday past was an important day for the city centre. It was fantastic to see shops open, people walking around laden with bags full of newly bought goods and our cafés, restaurants and bars bustling with activity.
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It is the start, but only the start, of a crucially important period for the retail and hospitality industry in the city centre. After a year of limited activity and months of closures businesses need to get back on their feet, trade freely and enjoy having customers again.
I am full of admiration for the way businesses have coped in adversity, and their willingness to embrace the regulations and Covid secure measures they have had to adapt to.
In the days leading up to last Monday our shops and hospitality trade worked incredibly hard to bring in screens, social distancing, sanitising stations and queuing systems. For us as customers, this is work we don’t see but rely on to ensure we are safe.
The hospitality and events industry has suffered enormously since the start of the pandemic, and have been hampered by confusing regulations, ever changing advice and a pace slower than their counterparts south of the border.
Irrespective of your views of the politics and different approaches of governments, this has put many traders on the brink. I hope that their patience, forbearance and strength will be rewarded with positive news very soon.
Essential Edinburgh has worked hard with the council and the city centre hospitality businesses to ensure additional outdoor space was made available, and the council elected officials and staff deserve praise for their attitude and speed in processing applications. These spaces are crucial to entice more people back into the city centre as early as possible to enjoy some alcohol as well as food.
This summer has great potential for the city centre. If Covid conditions allow I can see bustling streets full of residents and domestic visitors, Festival activities and people reacquainting themselves with our city centre after the best part of a year away.
We are a safe place to visit and enjoy, we will have lots of activity and innovative events and we will also have the opening of the St James Quarter. Our city centre has started its recovery, come in and see for yourself!