BUSINESS owners in Leamington are planning ahead to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.
As cases of the virus continue to rise traders are taking precautionary measures and following government advice.
Business leaders in the town said the events and hospitality sector was understood to have been affected, but the weather was also having an impact.
Stephanie Kerr, director of Leamington’s Business Improvement District said: “It is difficult to generalise about the impact as it varies by sector, for example, those in the events and hospitality sector, may be managing cancellations.
“It is more likely the weather has been the damper on footfall recently, though we are conscious Leamington has fared well compared to many other towns.
“Going forward we know business owners are adopting government advice and many are using the time to plan ahead.
“As well as sign-posting advice, we are also developing some exciting ideas aimed at enhancing town centre vibrancy, community wellbeing and the environment, so watch this space.”
But BID welcomed government’s recent budget announcement that retail and leisure firms would not pay any business rates for the next year to support the economy during the outbreak.
Companies with a rateable value of less than £51,000 would be eligible for the tax break.
Ms Kerr added: “We were pleased to see this additional support provided to our smaller shops, cafes and restaurants which offers some much needed short term relief and in some cases will be a real lifeline.
“However, we are aware this does not help our larger retail and leisure sector businesses, including a number of independent traders, who are also having a difficult time and contribute significantly to the local economy.
“Going forwards, we are providing information to our members to ensure they know how to access these benefits.”
The Royal Priors is taking measures to inform those working in its building about any changes due to the virus. An email sent to businesses urged employees to sign up to an app which should be ‘checked regularly’ where information would be posted.
And to stop any potential spread of the virus Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council has cancelled its annual meeting.
A spokesman said: “The parish council is postponing its annual meeting on advice from Warwickshire Association of Local Councils. The reason for this is to assist in minimising any potential to spread coronavirus by not holding any large public meetings.”
But Warwick District Council said it will not be following suit.
A spokeswoman told the Observer: “At present Warwick District Council does not intend to postpone or cancel any of it council, executive or committee meetings as a result of coronavirus. However the situation is being monitored as part of the council’s overall response to the virus.”
Four cases have been confirmed in Warwickshire to date and three in Coventry.
A patient who was being treated in Nuneaton died from the virus, along with another in Dudley, taking the number of lives claimed to the illness – also known as Covid-19 – in the UK to ten. Both were elderly and had underlying health conditions.
Nationally cases have continued to rise with 590 having contacted coronavirus in the UK to date.
Symptoms include fever and a cough which can lead to severe pneumonia and breathing difficulties in older people and those with weakened immune systems.
The UK’s chief medical officers have raised the risk level from low to moderate while the World Health Organisation recently announced the crisis was a pandemic.