THERE are fears life will never be the same in East Renfrewshire again with coronavirus set to wipe out businesses and hurt the area’s most vulnerable.

Community leaders and charity bosses have sounded the warning as the area gets set to combat months of uncertainty amid ramped up measures to stop Covid-19’s spread. 

It comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned measures brought in to tackle the spread of coronavirus will “change life as we know it”. 

The first minister advised people who showed symptoms of Covid-19 – namely a persistent cough or a fever – to self-isolate for 14 days, along with every member of their household.

Ms Sturgeon also advised people to increase their efforts to “socially distance” by refraining from going to places with a high concentration of people such as pubs or cinemas.

The ramped up measures, which come after a first person died as a result of the virus in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), are expected to most impact on small businesses across East Renfrewshire. 

The Scottish Government has announced a number of measures to support shops across Scotland, including a £320million package of support, but there are worries it will not go far enough. 

Laura Molloy, president of the East Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “A lot of small businesses are staring into the abyss at the minute. They are extremely concerned about the loss of revenue.

“It’s time for the government to step up and put some bold measures into place. 

“They can’t tinker around the edges with this. It could have a catastrophic effect on people’s homes and lives.

“The government is saying it will subsidise 75 per cent rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value under £69,000 but that’s only a small proportion they need to extend it to everyone.

“In places like Germany they are doing a lot more to help businesses.”

Meanwhile, foodbank bosses have raised concerns about a lack of supplies in the coming months as shocking images emerged in recent days of empty shelves in supermarkets as locals stockpile for themselves.

Bosses at East Renfrewshire Foodbank say they are expecting demand to rise during the coming months as the coronavirus pandemic takes hold of the area.

Stan Esson, warehouse manager, told the Barrhead News: “I’m a bit worried because most of our volunteers are over 70 and if they are told to self isolate we might have to shut.”

Mr Esson, who is himself 79-years-old, added it wasn’t a simple case of drafting in new, younger recruits as there are issues with showing new staff how to run the foodbank.

He added: “People have to be trained. It’s not just a case of getting people in to throw out parcels, there is more to it than that.

“We’re just following government advice at the minute but the whole thing is a mess and we’re worried.

“With the likes of Aldi limiting people to four items per shop it’s not looking good for us. We go in and buy 36 items at a time.”

Mr Esson said there might be meetings arranged with grocery bosses in a bid to alleviate foodbank stock issues.

“That would solve one of our problems but not the main issue of what to do about volunteers,” he said.

“You would think it’s the end of the world the way people are carrying on. We’re okay for most things at the moment but how long that will go on I don’t know. We’ve got some toilet roll, we’ve just been grabbing what we can.

“The things we need are coffee, fruit juice and tinned rice pudding.” 

Meanwhile, NHS bosses have promised services in East Renfrewshire are being ramped up to deal with the outbreak. 

Marie Farrell, director for Clyde sector, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “Across Greater Glasgow and Clyde we have been working closely with the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland to put robust plans in place to ensure our services are as resilient as possible as we enter the delay phase. 

“This is a fluid situation and the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH), in Paisley, has a number of operational, tactical and strategic groups meeting regularly to manage our emergency plans.

“We are confident we can manage the outbreak as effectively as possible. 

“The hospital has robust plans in in place to minimize the impact of COVID-19 and to maximise safety.”

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