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

Community leaders and charity bosses have sounded the warning as they get set to combat months of uncertainty amid ramped up moves 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” in the country. 

The First Minister advised people who showed symptoms of Covid-19 – namely a persistent cough or a fever – should 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 heightened measures, which came as a second person died from the virus in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, are expected to most impact small businesses across Renfrewshire. 

A number of pubs, bars, and restaurants, including Rennies Bar in Johnstone’s Collier Street, have already announced their intention to close for the foreseeable future. 

While agreeing with the need for such strict measures, businesses leaders have warned the lockdown could “kill the high street.” 

Allan Henderson, chairman of Johnstone Business Consortium, told The Gazette: “It is a really difficult one and it is really quite concerning for everyone.

“It is fair to say that unless there is help for small business then there is going to be a lot of closures because we can’t afford our running costs.

“It is always going to be small businesses which take the brunt of it and are the worst affected.

“If people aren’t going out, they aren’t going into shops and they aren’t spending their money.” 

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

Mr Henderson, who owns Henderson’s Flowers in Johnstone’s High Street, added: “I have been through several recessions and I honestly don’t remember it ever being this bad.

“The high street will be gone if we don’t get the support.” 

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

Morrisons, in Johnstone, and Linwood’s Asda were among shops cleared by customers of meat, bread, milk, and other essential items. 

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

Elizabeth Alexander, senior manager at Renfrewshire Foodbank, told The Gazette: “The numbers needing the foodbank could rise. If people are not able to work, then they won’t get paid and they are not going to be able to buy products.

“We could see donations drop if nobody is getting out and about. The problem is people are stocking up on the long-life stuff, non-perishables, tinned goods. These are the things we rely on to hand out because a lot of the people who use our service don’t have electricity or a working fridge.”

Milly MacKinnon, manager at Renfrewshire Foodbank, added: “We are going to feel the pinch soon because people are not donating.” 

The Paisley Food and Drink Festival and the British Pipe Band Championships are the most high profile casualties after Renfrewshire Council took the decision to cancel all large-scale events until the end of June. 

Gala days, as well as popular festivals, across Renfrewshire have also been postponed. 

While no decision has been made yet, there are fears the popular Sma’ Shot Day could also be cancelled.

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “In line with national guidance from the Scottish Government on the coronavirus, we have taken the decision to cancel all large-scale Renfrewshire Council-run events until the end of June.” 

“We will also look to reschedule both Renfrew Gala Day and Barshaw Gala Day for the end of summer.

“We will continue to review our future events, including Sma’ Shot Day.”

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