Without a doubt, food and retail premises in central London have suffered hugely during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Understandably, shops, restaurants and cafes have been slower to reopen, with less people in the City and customer concerns over Covid-19 transmission.
But with positive and supportive initiatives, like the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, the capital is starting to come alive once again.
It is clear that many people in the City took advantage of this, and some food premises are still running the discount, and providing good value meals.
We want to help businesses get back on track and safely bring customers through their doors once more.
We want to make sure consumers feel safe to visit these premises again.
And we want to give people a new confidence that precautionary measures are being taken.
That’s why today we are launching a new pilot scheme with the London boroughs of Camden and Southwark which will assess the Covid-19 safety measures being taken by food, retail and licensed premises in these areas.
The trials will be the first scheme of its kind launched by local government and will support businesses to reopen and reassure customers that they are safe to visit.
Currently by law, businesses must already carry out an appropriate Covid-19 Risk Assessment.
Our pilot will bring in a new independent assessment by local government Environmental Health Practitioners.
They will review each businesses’ Covid-19 risk assessment and carry out a site visit to look at social distancing measures, customer track and trace, and cleanliness.
Firms in the pilot will be given a simple pass or fail by the local authority’s Environmental Health teams.
If a business fails, they can bring in new remedial measures following advice given by the officers and be re-assessed.
A Covid-compliant sticker will be awarded to successful firms which they can display on their premises, and the result will be listed on each of the local authority websites.
Thirty businesses in each local authority area are being invited to take part in the scheme.
Here in the Square Mile we are working in partnership with the Cheapside Business Alliance, who are helping to get City firms in signed up.
This is a hugely exciting initiative and we are confident that it will give residents that extra trust in the City’s cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops.
These businesses are the beating heart of the Square Mile and I have seen first-hand how they are working hard to get themselves Covid-secure and reopen safely.
Our pilot scheme will run throughout September and October. If successful, it could be rolled out across the capital, and potentially further.
After a hugely challenging time for so many firms, large and small, we are working flat out to help them to get back up and running.
And this scheme will take us a step close to doing just that.