COMMENT:

Everyone across the Bay of Plenty, and indeed the whole country, should feel immensely proud of what we have collectively achieved over the past four weeks.

We have taken on Covid-19 and done an outstanding job of getting it under control.

We've kept our death rate and number of cases as low as possible and got ourselves to a point where the Government has this week allowed a little more freedom for some businesses to safely open and for people to move about a little more.

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But we had to make huge sacrifices to get to this point. These sacrifices have, in my view, been worth it. The ongoing health and economic impact of not going hard and early on with this deadly plague would have been tremendous and enduring.

But the sacrifices have still come at a terrible and abrupt economic price with businesses and industries badly hit and jobs lost.

So now is the time for us to pull together to support local businesses as they re-open safely or plan their re-opening in weeks to come.

NZME, publisher of the Bay of Plenty Times, has today launched GO LOCAL! to encourage people to buy and support local.

This campaign supports every other hyper-local buy local campaign across the region.

Over the coming weeks and months, we will use the power of our journalism to shine a light on businesses doing things differently and reinventing themselves, and how you can help.

It is vital each one of us does what we can to help local businesses by buying local goods and choosing local services.

Supporting local means these businesses can start to prosper again, spend more money with other businesses and hopefully employ more people.

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It's vital for our local economy - and it's vital for our overall wellbeing.

We've taken the first step against fighting Covid-19. Now is the time to take the next step.

Yes, it will continue to be challenging. But, like in lockdown, together we can do this.

Now is the time to GO LOCAL!