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Mayor's Blog: Fools Rush Out

24 April 2020

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It’s disappointing that we must grit our teeth for a few more weeks in solitary, but we’re using that time well to make plans for the Recovery. We can’t hunker down forever. We need to kickstart our lives, and soon.

There’s mounting urgency to reopen Britain for business, bringing people out of Lockdown and back into the bustle of school and work, but we must be cautious and prudent, doing it in the safest way.

No point in rushing out - undoing all the good work we’ve done by staying in.

That said, it’s right for us to look ahead - with public health still top priority - and dial up efforts to revive our regional economy.  

Here at the Combined Authority, we’re 100% focussed on that revival and how to get Cambridgeshire and Peterborough back on track. That’s what our C-19 capital grants are about – ready cash that will equip smaller businesses to spring into action as soon as it’s safe to do so.  There’s been a fantastic response and the scheme remains open to applicants for another seven days.

And this week, we’ve turned matchmaker, launching our ‘Talent Portal’ for companies urgently needing to recruit workers with particular skills. This isn’t just another job site.  Time is critical for businesses trying to claw back lost ground - and we’ll hook them up very precisely and quickly with the right people for the job.

Nobody believes we can jump feet first straight back to normal life. There’s going to be a period of transition from where we are now to where we need to be.  But we’ve already come a long way from those first days of struggling to pronounce ‘coro-na-virus’ and learning to wash our hands to ‘Happy Birthday’, sung twice.   We’re all a bit more switched on and Covid-savvy now.

We know how we need to behave to help beat this virus - and that knowledge will guide our first moves towards recovery.   As Mayor, I have daily discussions with  Government ministers and I know there will be no Unlockdown until the time is right.

Restrictions won’t lift before there’s evidence that the Covid peak is passed - a sustained fall in both Covid deaths and new infections, freed-up hospital capacity, more PPE, testing, and contact tracing, plus reduced chance of a second onslaught from this murderous little bug. But as the UK resilience increases, we’ll see what HR pros would call ‘a phased return’ to work and to school and community life.

Dragons come in all sizes and the virus is a tiny one. But we’ll slay it. Yesterday was both St George’s Day and the start of Ramadan, the holy month when so many of our key workers and carers fast from dawn to dusk but still turn up for duty each day.

And yesterday was also the BBC’s ‘Big Night In’ when laughter was used to aid the victims of Covid, and clapping to honour the carers. Just look round our marvellous county in all its kaleidoscope of difference, its many portals of talent, and see the unified public spirit and togetherness that will get us through this.

Then we’ll all have that Big Night Out.