We have a short extension to level 4 lockdown and from next Tuesday the journey back to 'normalcy' begins – with what will surely be a number of stops along the way to look at how the journey is progressing.
Now that the decision [to move lockdown levels] is made there is the temptation to analyse and pick apart the decision, indeed, all the decisions which got us here – however, my encouragement to business and the wider community is to now look ahead and start to plan for the days, weeks and months to come.
I am reminded of the second Back to the Future movie where the space/time continuum was altered to a new, less than palatable reality.
In that film, armed with a time machine, Marty and Doc Emmett Brown were able to get to a point where they could readjust the timeline and undo poor decisions by their antagonist 'Biff' Tannen.
Unfortunately, unless there has been a breakthrough in a science lab or in a back garage somewhere, we don't have the luxury of a time hopping vehicle – but what we do have is the power to make the right decisions.
I think it is fair to speculate that the short to medium term economic, social and health environment will be materially different to what it was and, as much as it is easy to get caught from time to time in this type of thinking, things are not going back to "where it was".
'Normalcy' is in italics here for a reason because, even if we make dramatic positive strides in the medium to long term, things will still be different. Hence why statements like "I want the old days back again", "Make America Great Again" and "I wish I had my time over again" are lost causes because change in the vast majority of cases is permanent.
But 'change' does not mean worse and it is important to recognise that there will be opportunities amongst the resetting which lies in front of us.
And for us as consumers, as the ability to spend beyond 'essentials' becomes more common, it is absolutely crucial that we spend with locals and support those who are trying to get on their feet again after a lengthy layoff.
With this in mind I am encouraged that a 'buy' local campaign is in the works and I am also rapt to learn that innovative locals are working to develop online platforms so that local businesses can offer their products without the need to spend thousands on an online shopfront portal (watch this space).
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Right now we are working with businesses across the region to assist them with planning and tackling the challenges presented by level 4 and, soon level 3.
As well, these sessions are also giving rise to ideas and opportunities not previously thought of. These ideas extend beyond the current business model to new opportunities and ideas for the client from an individual perspective and even straight budgeting advice.
Many of these sessions can be covered by funding through the Regional Business Partners network, which can be accessed through enquiry to Whanganui and Partners (who are working hard to assist the business community).
As well as this there is the recently announced government assistance which, if you haven't explored, the team at Whanganui & Partners or a phone call to me could get things moving.
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But I cannot emphasise it enough, that this unique situation is effectively a call to us to look after each other.
What better way to do that than to support the businesses which provide goods, services and employment and make our collective lives better.
Buy local and together we can get Whanganui Back to the Future (or at least close to it) – the one that we were looking forward to before a microscopic antagonist altered our trajectory.
•Russell is available by phone 021 244 2421 if you want to talk about your business' continuity or to see if you are eligible for funding.