This week’s Getting Bradford Back to Business blog is written by Craig Burman, partner in the Environmental and Regulatory department at Schofield Sweeney solicitors, which is based in Little Germany........

One of the things that I love about Bradford is how entrepreneurial the city is. It is full of people with the bravery to take the plunge to set themselves up in business. Many tell the same story about setting up on a shoestring and building the business through hard work and determination.

As I drive around Bradford this entrepreneurial spirit is evident in the variety and number of independently owned and operated restaurants, function centres and eating establishments there are. Small and large, they play a vital role in the culture of the city and offer a meeting place for families and friends.

We have all had a hard year, but Covid-19 has not been kind to this sector. Most businesses had to close between late March and early July. Since then, the hospitality industry has been faced with the triple whammy of making their premises Covid-secure, 10pm closing and the drop in trade as people stay at home. The restriction on households meeting indoors has also had a big impact.

Recently, I have been helping business owners ensure they are compliant with the ever-changing rules and regulations. Businesses are all affected in different ways by the current restrictions. For restaurants and function centres, there are restrictions on group numbers, gatherings, weddings and social events, and these will differ depending on whether you are in tier 1, 2 or 3.

The industry has been working extremely hard to offer their customers safe dining, drinking and function facilities, and finding creative ways to give their customers what they want. One restaurateur has managed to safely reintroduce their buffet service using strict Covid-secure measures.

We must trust business owners to put our health and safety first, and I have been really impressed with how comprehensive some of the risk assessments have been, and how much has been spent on keeping customers safe. Waiting and kitchen staff have risen to new challenges and I salute anyone who can do a full shift in a facemask, because I struggle with mine during a quick trip round the supermarket.

There are always those who prefer to take shortcuts and put profit margins first. I was recently in a restaurant where there were no signs, no sanitiser, waiting staff did not wear masks and I saw one sneeze while carrying a tray full of starters. We must vote with our feet to encourage operators who are not Covid-secure to do more. I left before ordering food.

If we want choice and variety, we must continue to eat out to help out and ensure Bradford’s vibrant and varied food-based economy weathers the current crisis. Where we can, we should support those operators who have gone to great lengths to implement measures to keep us safe, and challenge those who have to ‘pull their socks up’.

As we wait to see what the year brings next, it’s our turn to look at how we can help those businesses who have gone to great lengths to help us.