Businesses in Shrewsbury have been turning to a range of online resources to support each other during the coronavirus crisis.

The town centre has been a shadow of its usual vibrant self during the past few weeks, with the majority of shops closed and people being told to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus.

Although a range of government support has been made available, the situation has left many business owners facing uncertainty – with at least three more weeks of lockdown still to come.

Over five hundred businesses are members of Shrewsbury BID (Business Improvement District), which has been coordinating key information updates as the situation develops, hosting business support webinars and providing access to employment law advice, as well as providing additional security patrols for the town with Belmont Security allowing businesses to request a security inspection, and gathering key holder information in case of security issues.

Sam Gwilliam, of Ginger & Co. on Princess Street, said the regular updates and information had been extremely helpful.

“This is a difficult time for everyone and we are all pulling together to try to get through to the other side,” he said.

“Being able to access resources online has also been vital, and the Support Shrewsbury website looks like being an important project for all town centre traders.”

Support Shrewsbury is an online marketplace where people can buy gift vouchers and products from a wide variety of shops and businesses in the town.

The website is due to launch next week, and traders are being encouraged to make sure they have registered so they can sell vouchers or products through the site.

Seb Slater, Executive Director at Shrewsbury BID, said the unprecedented situation had meant everyone had been forced to quickly change the way they worked.

“The most obvious thing that has changed has been the shift to online working and trading since most businesses have had to close their premises” she said.

“That’s why Support Shrewsbury has been developed and will launch within a matter of days, to allow businesses to generate income whilst movement restrictions are in place, and to allow Shrewsbury residents to support local businesses from their homes.

“We have been sharing lots of information as possible with our members regarding the government’s job retention scheme, and have partnered with local employment law experts Bennett Briegal to offer direct access to legal advice.

“We also held a webinar with over 60 businesses signing up, when representatives from Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury Town Council, Bennett Briegal, TCA Accountants and Henshalls Insurance answered questions and gave updates on the latest situation.

“Social media has been a particularly good way for businesses to stay in touch, and we have set up a number of groups for specific sectors to share their views, concerns and to just generally support each other. The Original Shrewsbury instagram takeovers are also proving especially popular at the moment, with the most recent takeover creating a reach of over 15,000 people with 525 engagements.”

Shrewsbury BID is now working with Shrewsbury Town Council and Shropshire council to create a unified recovery plan to help the town get back to business as soon as is safely possible.