IN common with small businesses all over the county, Babar Café in Hereford is trying to find ways to survive the pandemic until they can open again.

Although there is no clear guidance yet from the Government about when bars and restaurants can reopen, Nick Herbert at Babar believes it is unlikely to be before December, if not next year, a belief reinforced by Cabinet Minister Michael Gove's April 20 briefing when he admitted that pubs and bars will be among the last businesses to re-open.

That means that there are potentially many more months to pay the rent and ongoing bills without any income. Nick said that they had asked their private landlord for a reduction in rent to help tide them over but had not yet received an answer.

Babar's is a venue that provides music and atmosphere with a community outlook. They host events organised by local promoters including students and music groups, as well as artists and DJs. That is very difficult to provide as a take-away service and Nick says they are having to think outside the box to safeguard their future. "We really do not want to give up on everything we have worked so hard for over the last 18 months," he said.

Baba'rs had their small business grant in early April and were able to furlough staff. However, at that time, they envisaged being back in business by June and paid off all outstanding debts to local suppliers so that they would not be out of pocket. Over the last week or so, they have come to accept that reopening is going to be much further away, and in the light of the situation, they are asking landlords to join together with their tenants to forge new agreements to find ways to survive.

At Babar's they are looking at becoming a community-based shop to sell locally made clothes, furniture, art and even organic veg as previously sold in market stalls. They are also looking at weekly online DJ events for which they will ask for contributions to help Babar's survive until reopening as a bar.

Nick said: "We are all in this together and we need to support each other. In that way we are asking if landlords can help their tenants by reducing rents to share the burden until new style businesses can get up and running. The last thing we need is more empty shops.

"Its like a restart button on the computer. We have got to think of different ways of being. Even if we open in December, there will be social distancing, which will not be viable for businesses like ours."

l To learn about all the help and support available in relation to business rates and Herefordshire Council is working Herefordshire Council is working with the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (Marches LEP) to support the business community throughout the coronavirus outbreak through our joint business support service, the Marches Growth Hub, where all the information on the government schemes can be found.

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership is also conducting a Coronavirus Business Support Survey, which can be accessed at

In a letter to Hereford businesses, dated April 7, cabinet member for Environment, Economy and Skills, Cllr Dr Ellie Chowns, outlined the action the council was taking to provide help and support to local business.

Among the initiatives launched is a series of webinars running this month to bring Herefordshire's business community together to share ideas and help each other to make the most of this period of lockdown.

Today, from 11.30am – strategy and planning' Thursday, May 14 – branding and marketing; Thursday, May 21 – Community business wellbeing and future developments; Thursday, May 28 – planning your finances. All webinars start at 11.30am. Register via Eventbrite.

Dr Chowns' letter ended: "The county and the wider country has the potential to be a significantly different place after the Covid-19 crisis. At the council we are doing our very best to support businesses and assist communities. Our collective future economic success may well depend on how we all react over the next few months."