Sutton is home to many wonderful food places and we are proud to play host to delicious flavours and creative dishes across our borough.
But during the pandemic, it was clear that business owners needed extra support to keep their eating spots open to the public.
Kate, Lead Officer for Environmental Health, Food and Safety, explained how we were able to step up and support Sutton’s food businesses from the start of the pandemic.
Initially, scientists were not sure exactly how the virus spread, and whether touching items was as potent for spreading COVID-19 as sharing the same air. Our Environmental Health team reminded all food places of additional hygiene standards, such as being careful about sanitising items you may not even think of at first, like taps.
Kate explained: “We also set out all of the new safety features needed for delivery and cookery staff. It became pretty common to have contactless deliveries, but we pointed out that delivery drivers needed antibacterial spray and hand gel with them, and asked them to spray their delivery bags all over to reduce the risk of infection.”
As regulations changed, the teams contacted food businesses across the borough with guidance on how to operate safely during COVID-19 where they were allowed to stay open.
“We included information on how to set up takeaway services, COVID-19 cleanliness, and what kind of service was allowed at every step. We then sent a letter with further guidance on how to open up safely when restrictions began to lift.” Kate said.
“Our Regulatory Services teams ran COVID-19 patrols, meaning we could easily visit business premises to talk to local food service managers and owners, check in on them and give extra advice depending on the level of lockdown, opening up or business grants needed. It was rewarding to see so many businesses adapting and complying with the rules so they could still serve local residents too.”
Since April 2021 there have been more than ten changes to the Government’s financial support available for businesses across the capital and beyond. This meant our Business Support teams had hundreds of businesses across the borough to advise on the changes, such as highly rated restaurants the Ginger Frog, Dobbies Garden Centre and the Sunshine Cafe.
Kate added, “Spots like these are a beacon of local community spirit and of course provide a wide variety of food and drinks. We wanted to ensure they opened safely and could stay afloat.”
At each step of the funding and regulatory changes, Sutton Council was able to provide information on how to get new grants to keep food outlets running.
With the influx of Government funding for various kinds of businesses in the country, the Council had to act quickly to identify local needs. Colleagues in the Business and Enterprise Support Team administered local grants depending on the Government’s funding plans. For example, the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), which supports businesses that are not covered by other grant schemes or where additional funding is needed. This meant Sutton Council could arrange specific financial support for local businesses as and when it was needed, instead of establishments having to apply to a one-size-fits-all funding scheme to keep their finances going.
At the moment, they’re really excited about the Council leading on programmes aimed at supporting growth and confidence across Sutton’s economy. The team is setting up one-to-one support and mentorships, workshops, and business support networks so people can share tips and ideas on growing their companies.
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