A YEAR after the first coronavirus cases were found in Powys, there is hope the county's economy can bounce back from 12 months of turmoil caused by the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

It was on March 11, 2020 that the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in Powys by Public Health Wales - from tests on March 10 - and lockdowns soon followed.

Since then, Wales has moved in and out of lockdown, more than 4,000 cases of Covid have been found in Powys, and as many as 235 people have died with the disease.

On Friday, the lockdown rules will be reviewed by the Welsh Government, with hopes high that enough has been done to mitigate the spread of the virus to allow business to flourish once more.

Councillor Iain McIntosh, Powys County Council's cabinet portfolio holder for economic development, says there are hospitality businesses now "down to their last few pounds", but believes the sector can bounce back strongly when lockdown restrictions are eased soon.

He said: "The last 12 months have clearly had a significant impact on the economy, particularly locally.


"As a businessman for 35 years now, I've had first-hand experience myself, and am aware of the significant impact on hospitality through to retail.

"The council has worked very closely with the Welsh Government to distribute the grant-funding sent by the UK Government and have been very active in making sure businesses can access that.

"Going forward it's difficult to say where we will be in the near future. I'm hoping restrictions ease so non-essential retailers can re-open soon. It's fair to say hospitality has been hit the worst. I know people with pubs and B&B's who are down to their last few pounds."

"Everyone is in the same boat across the country, and we need to do as much as we can as soon as we can start to get restrictions lifted.

"There will be a lot of people who will be wary of going abroad but who will still want to take a break.

"I know a lot of people in hospitality are expecting a big boost from this, who own glamping sites for example, and hopefully it will be similar to what happened last summer.

"We will have to wait and see what the response from the public is, when they are able to take a break locally.

"If people are wary, then we might need to put something in place to give people confidence, and emphasise businesses will have every safety measure in place, but I'm fairly confident we will have a big boost.

Businesses across Powys are gearing up to re-open, echoing Cllr McIntosh's comments about survival in the last year, but optimistic for the future

Deborah Evans, landlady of four years at Kerry Lamb pub said: "We have just about weathered it.

County Times: Gerry Owen and Deborah Evans of the Kerry Lamb.

Jerry Owen and Deborah Evans of the Kerry Lamb.

"We have had to put any savings we have built up to sustaining the building. The grants from the government and council have helped us get through. It is the not knowing that affects us more than anything. We still do not know how long this is going to go on for.

"It has been tough and stressful. But we have been supported by the community, customers have been asking us if we are OK and if they can help with anything with deliveries. That is the thing that keeps us going. We are lucky to live in a wonderful community. I would not want to be anywhere else in something like this.

"If there is no further financial support for the hospitality industry it is likely that we will not make it. If it is a June reopening, we will not survive without additional support. If they allow us to reopen outside then we would be in a good position. That has been the most frustrating thing.

"But it is really difficult to be told on a Friday that you can reopen on a Monday because there is so much to do.

"We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst."

County Times: Eleri Ffion Dowell, Newtown-based beauty therapist and owner of Beauty by Eleri Ffion.

Eleri Ffion Dowell, Newtown-based beauty therapist and owner of Beauty by Eleri Ffion.

Eleri Ffion Dowell, owner of Newtown-based Beauty by Eleri Ffion, said: "I'm feeling optimistic now. I will be going back into it feeling very prepared. I have been inundated with messages. People are desperate for a pamper. I am going back busier than I have ever been before, which is a really exciting thought.

"The business was only born in 2019 and with coronavirus arriving 12 months later it was concerning how that would impact me and how the business would survive. There has been no doubt that it has been challenging because it was something I had wanted to do for a while and I had only got my teeth stuck into it, and then we were shut down.

"The support from customers has been overwhelming. It has helped me get through. I am so excited to have customers back. I have got everything crossed for the green light. But half of me is sceptical because dates have changed for us so much and that has been difficult.

"We are quite lucky in the beauty sector because from day one it is about infection control and measures in place to make sure everyone is safe. It has not been a drastic change for our sector. We have always worn the PPE and cleaning down surfaces. That is second nature for us."