With a number of independent businesses – including party retailers and balloon artists – remaining unclear about what constitutes a ‘non-essential’ retailer, George Oustayiannis, chairman of balloon and party association NABAS, has issued a statement clarifying his position on the guidelines.
The statement, issued directly to NABAS members, read:
“Reading your posts and answering emails, private messages and calls, my challenge is how do I protect you? How do I support you? How do I give you advice and guidance that is fair yet takes your very survival into account? And yes, I do mean your life as well as your business. We can and will rebuild businesses once this ends.
On Thursday 26 March our government stated: ‘With the exception of some non-essential shops and public venues, we are not asking any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.‘
This is where the confusion, misinterpretation and self-serving spin on fact is coming from.
As I’m seeing, many of you will cherry pick the bits that work for you, but my recommendations (and they are recommendations), are not based on knee jerk reactions, sensationalism or self-promotion, but from information ascertained from the government, approved trade bodies and medical advice from around the world. They are not based on media sensationalism or pressures put on me by others.
So, let’s take away the spin. This is about distancing and preventing contact with others, and to a degree this is already showing signs of working. As of today, Imperial College London statisticians believe the UK is now on course for about 5,700 deaths, far lower than originally predicted, due to social distancing measures. So now really isn’t the time to take unnecessary risks.
So, unless you are using approved couriers to collect and deliver orders for you (which I believe may also stop soon), I cannot support independent business owners jumping in their cars and making what they believe are ‘contactless deliveries’, or indeed support collections from your home. It simply isn’t worth the risk.
If tempted, please sit down with a pen and paper and write a risk assessment looking for all the Things That Could Go Wrong which may result in direct contact with another. For example; an incident involving your car, accidentally bumping into someone or touching something as you place your delivery on the door step, the door opening and a frustrated child escaping from the front door shouting ‘freedom!’ and wrapping their arms around you… You get the point.
Once this is completed, if you still believe you have no part to play in reducing the spread and ultimately preventing deaths, please let me know how you’ve convinced yourself that not only are you invincible but also incapable of passing on this killer airborne disease?
Don’t be the problem, be part of the solution!”