Make It York Blog – Working Together to Reopen the City

Make It York’s Managing Director, Sean Bullick, discusses the plans for reopening the city and how businesses across all sectors are rising to the challenge of adapting to life post Covid-19.

The last few months have been incredibly challenging for businesses across all sectors. Now, as we move forward into the next phase of recovery planning, it’s been positive to see how the plans for reopening the city are taking shape, and how so many businesses are rising to the challenge of adapting to life post Covid-19.

Since the start of the outbreak we have been speaking to businesses daily across all sectors – from retail and tourism through to transport, financial services, IT and beyond – about the challenges we face city-wide to recover from the pandemic and how we can adapt our ways of working. Over the past few months there have been so many wonderful examples of York businesses diversifying and innovating to change what they offer, supporting the local community and making significant changes to how they operate to ensure the safety of their customers and staff.

As lockdown restrictions start to ease and more and more businesses can reopen, we are focusing on working alongside City of York Council, York BID and other partners across the city to build resident, stakeholder and visitor confidence that the city continues to be a welcoming and safe space. The “Let’s be York” campaign which City of York Council has been heading up focuses on the changes being implemented throughout the city to help us all adapt and plan for York’s future as a sustainable, inclusive place to live and work. I’d encourage any York businesses who haven’t done so to register for their free “Let’s be York” pack, which includes social distancing floor stickers and safety advice posters. More information is available at www.york.gov.uk/BusinessToolkit.

Shambles Market successfully reopened to all traders from last Monday – with new processes and systems being put in place to allow for social distancing including a one-way system and a re-configuration of the layout of the stalls to improve the flow of customers and minimise disruption to traders. It has been fantastic to see this working in action and the positive response we have had from traders and visitors to the market over the last few weeks. The market also received praise as part of the wider story in The Yorkshire Post about the recovery of the retail sector in Yorkshire, which was brilliant to be included in.

The Make It York team has also been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that we have all the safety measures in place to reopen the Visitor Information Centre from today, and that both staff and visitors feel secure and confident in the space. With many of the city’s attractions and hospitality businesses looking to reopen over the next few weeks and retailers already starting to trade again, we felt it was important that the Visitor Information Centre team were back in place – to support our residents and visitors with information on the wonderful and unique experiences we have available in the city.

City-wide, as more and more businesses reopen in line with Government guidance, our key priorities over the next few weeks will be to support companies as they make significant changes to ways of operating to reopen, sharing best practice across sectors, and continuing to offer guidance on areas such as access to funding and grants, re-training staff and adapting business models. We’ll also be spreading the word about the positive stories of businesses reopening in the city across our social media channels and on our website, as well as through City of York Council’s York Kind campaign, which we are supporting.

In the longer-term, we are continuing to develop our recovery marketing campaign which will initially focus on inspiring residents to explore the city and support their local businesses.

Whilst it is an immensely difficult time for all businesses as we navigate this new world post Covid-19 and adapt our ways of working, York has a long history of reinventing itself and showing resilience in the face of immense challenges – and by working together with one unified approach, we stand our best chance of ensuring the city’s recovery is successful.