I am delighted and relieved that nearly every aspect of our economy in Maidstone and The Weald is now open for business following a very testing few months. This is very welcome news for jobs and prosperity in our communities.
Last week, I visited The Climbing Experience, a fantastic new business in Maidstone and part of one of the last sectors to reopen. They are a model example of how a business can adapt to ensure they can safely welcome back their customers. Among their Covid-19 measures are the introduction of a live ‘climber counter’ to ensure they never exceed capacity, and incorporating sanitiser into the climbing powder used by participants, effectively cleaning the boulders as they are traversed whilst also protecting the climbers. It means people can now once again enjoy their impressive array of climbing facilities - more details are here: https://theclimbingexperience.co.uk/.
Last weekend, the Hollywood Bowl at Lockmeadow in Maidstone was also able to reopen, offering hi-tech 10-pin bowling once again, at very reasonable prices. I know that the team there have worked equally hard to ensure visitors’ safety. Beauticians too are now allowed to offer close contact treatments, such as facials and eyebrow threading. This industry provides thousands of jobs, particularly to women. I am pleased that calls for a full reopening have been heeded, including a letter from my parliamentary colleagues and I to the Prime Minister.
The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ discount scheme is another very well received innovation, helping to prime the pumps of previously dormant hospitality businesses. Walking through Maidstone on Wednesday last week I saw long queues at eateries throughout the town; showing the scheme is already being widely used by Maidstone’s residents.
And whilst Theatres were given a conditional go ahead as from last Saturday, reduced capacity audiences due to social distancing requirements make re-opening at our own Hazlitt Theatre unviable for the time being. That is why I supported their Arts Council application this week, for funding ongoing maintenance costs until those measures have been sufficiently relaxed.
Many businesses may have turned a corner, but it is up to us now to go and buy their products and services if they are to survive the next phase – safety and social distancing allowing of course. I remain on hand to support in any way that I can – do get in touch if you think I can help you.