Hounslow Business Task Force at Ten - Free Webinars:
We are hosting our next Business Task Force webinar on Thursday, 7 th May at 10:00 am, in conjunction with Chiswickbuzz , in our continuing commitment to our businesses across the borough and wider community.
Our expert panel is here to give you relevant advice to help you though these difficult times. 
If you have missed our webinars, you can watch them now:   https://hounslowchamber.org.uk/10015

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed today that the UK is ‘past the peak’ of COVID-19 and promised to deliver a roadmap for a lockdown exit strategy next week.

Speaking at his first Downing Street press conference since he contracted the virus, the Prime Minister thanked everyone who had provided support in his absence, and had a special ‘thank you’ for the NHS.

He said there were many reasons to remain hopeful for the long-term, including that the UK is leading international efforts to find a vaccine.

“Today, Oxford University has announced a partnership with AstraZenica to develop a means of inoculating ourselves against the disease,” he said.

“But until this day comes, and we cannot say exactly when it may be, we will have to beat this disease by our growing resolve and ingenuity.”

He said that next week he would announce a plan for the lockdown exit strategy which would explain how:

1. we can get our economy moving
2. we can get our children back to school and into childcare
3. we can travel to work and make life in workplaces safer

Treasury cuts taxes to reduce PPE costs
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against COVID-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period from tomorrow (May 1).

The government had already removed import duties from PPE to ensure more essential equipment can get to the front line quicker, and says it believes the VAT holiday will save around £100 million.

More information is available here.

The NHS-funded nursing care rate is being increased to £183.92 from 1 April 2020.
The NHS-funded nursing care standard weekly rate per person for 2019 to 2020 will increase and be backdated to 1 April 2019. The current rate of £165.56 will increase by 9% to £180.31 for the 2019 to 2020 financial year.

VAT scrapped on E-publications
Plans to scrap VAT on e-publications fast-tracked and will come into force tomorrow.
Hounslow councillors have reached out to their black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to share their support during the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative spearheaded by councillor Hanif Khan, who is also the authority’s transport boss, was prompted by findings that ethnic minorities have been disproportionately hit by the deadly virus.

"What hit me was the first ten doctors that died were from BAME background. For me that really struck a chord - it is happening, why is it happening? And what is our duty of care?” cllr Khan said

“Our BAME Community in Hounslow not only work in NHS and social care but in transport, as bus drivers, taxi drivers, shop keepers, in supermarkets, all of which are necessary services to be provided in the lockdown”.

“To the BAME community, please stay at home, only go out for emergencies, protect yourself and loved ones”.

The Labour member received video messages from 29 colleagues which were put into a four-minute Youtube clip to show solidarity with the communities that are estimated to make up at least 51 per cent of the borough’s population.

Heathrow COVID-19 Update
health checks and measures for passengers (courtesy of the External Affairs Team, Heathrow)
Throughout the current crisis, Heathrow has remained open, providing a crucial role in ensuring critical medical supplies can be brought into the country to support the NHS and working with Government to bring British citizens home.

We are supporting the work of Public Health England in carrying out any health checks they feel are appropriate and ensuring that we comply with all their advice to provide a safe environment for passengers and colleagues.

You will be aware that other countries have a different strategy for health screening to that of the UK, and that there has been concern over the lack of visible health screening by PHE at Heathrow, especially when compared to the measures used in some other countries.

As an island nation and a trading nation, the UK economy is hugely dependent on aviation for tourism, for exports and for FDI and so it is critical that we are seen as a safe country to travel through.

We have recently called for a Common International Standard for health checks at airports to help the UK economy recover from this crisis, just as there is for aviation security. This will be crucial to maintaining public confidence in aviation as a safe mode of travel, will make it easier for British exporters to trade internationally and easier for tourists and students to come to the UK without the risk of quarantine when they return home.

As a global hub airport, Heathrow will need to adopt the highest international standards, even if that takes us beyond those required by the UK Government. However, we believe that the UK Government could provide a lead in defining that Common International Standard, as they have done with security standards.

Our priority is always to ensure the safety of both our passengers and colleagues. We also need to give people the confidence to travel so that the aviation industry and global economies can start to recover.

We are already working with the aviation industry and regulators both here and in other countries to establish the need for a common standard, and what that might involve. These could include enhanced cleaning regimes, health passports, health screening at entry points or development of technology that will reduce person to person contact throughout the passenger’s journey. 

It’s too early to say what the outcomes could be, but our view is that any measures agreed, must meet three criteria:
1. It must be medically effective
2. It must be something that meets the expectations of the public in terms of safety, security, and convenience
3. It must be something that airports can implement and deliver
Good News:
courtesy of Chiswick Calendar
Chiswick Cinema CGI

Work restarts on the Chiswick Cinema site

Work has started again on the Chiswick Cinema site, which has been shut down for over a month. 

Construction workers for Conemar started back at the site earlier this week. 

"The Government is beginning to encourage construction again" says Lyn Goleby, Hounslow Chamber member and the entrepreneur behind the Chiswick Cinema, "and the workers on our site will be working in a socially distanced way."

What are her thoughts on when the cinema will now open and how the movie-going landscape has changed as a result of the Coronavirus? Read the interview with Lynn on The Chiswick Calendar website
Newly hatched Coot chicks at Chiswick House
Coot chicks hatch at Chiswick House

Thanks to James Yates for this great picture of a Eurasian coot family that have made their home under the bridge in Chiswick House.

See more of his photos on Instagram
and on his website: 
Hounslow Chamber of Commerce is the primary support, networking, and representation organisation in west London for SMEs.

We support the interests, the commercial aspirations and the investment for some 18,000 firms - from Chiswick to Feltham, Heathrow to Osterley and Brentford to Bedfont - the Chamber is the voice for all businesses located in the borough.