A new campaign to support businesses that are safely open for business in the West Midlands launches today.

#WMOpen4Biz is being run by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and is backed by the region’s trade and industry leaders, to encourage shoppers and residents to safely return to town and city centres. Since June, businesses and offices have been opening their doors again, putting in measures to ensure they are ‘Covid-secure’ and that residents can shop and work safely.

The campaign has been kicked off by Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street who visited a variety of independent shops in Wolverhampton and Birmingham to see how they had made themselves ‘Covid-secure’.

The Mayor said: “Coronavirus continues to have a big impact on our way of life and shows no sign of stopping, meaning we must learn to live safely with it. This is critical because whilst we face a public health crisis, we also face an economic one too.

“It is brilliant that so many local businesses, shops, restaurants, and a whole host of other venues have re-opened their doors despite the difficult times, but they need support to stay open.

“As well as Government support which we are lobbying for, small acts such as buying a morning coffee from a coffee shop, picking up lunch from a sandwich bar, and shopping on your local high street for essentials instead of online, can make such a difference to these businesses, their employees, and ultimately the West Midlands economy.

“So I want to encourage everyone who can to safely get out to our brilliant local shops and restaurants once again. West Midlands businesses are open, and they have gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of workers and customers, so please remember to socially distance and wear a mask.”

Cllr Ian Brookfield, WMCA portfolio lead for economy and innovation and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council said: “During the summer, shopping areas have safely reopened across the region including in our city thanks to our Wolverhampton Open for Business Campaign.

“Despite ongoing challenges with Covid-19, the message is that the West Midlands as a region is open for business and it’s important to continue to support your local high streets and boost the economy.”

As part of the campaign launch, the Mayor visited local businesses in Wolverhampton city centre that have managed to keep their doors open thanks to taking measures to make their premises safe. He visited the offices of the Express and Star; Ron Flowers Sports; Blooms Menswear; and Michael Kirk the Butcher.

Sam Carter, sales assistant at Ron Flowers Sports, said: “It’s definitely a good campaign. Getting people back in the shop is brilliant but keeping people safe is ultimately the most important part; I’m all for getting people back on the high street.”

The Mayor also visited businesses in Birmingham city centre, who also shared the measures that they had put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their customers, including Piccadilly Cobbler and the Smithsonia gift shop.

The campaign has received strong support from business representative organisations, including the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce.

Anjum Khan, the director of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), said: “The Open for Business safely campaign, in conjunction with the ABCC’s Business Support campaign, will be critical in engaging more members of the Asian business community with guidance and advice that is crucial to their survival.

“Working collaboratively, we can help businesses throughout the region, by ensuring they have the knowledge and resources they need to remain open while doing all that they can to contain the spread of this virus.

“Any business that is looking for support should call our hotline for advice on 0121 274 3280.”

Further details of advice and support for businesses can be found at https://beta.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/covid-19-support/business-support/

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street meets Nia Cameron (centre) and Ayisha Saddique (right) at Ron Flowers Sports in Wolverhampton ahead of today’s launch of the #WMOpen4Biz campaign