As the lockdown continues, following the closure last month of schools, pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and other businesses to prevent the spread of the devastating coronavirus outbreak, Business Editor Nadia Jefferson-Brown asked members of York's business community what there was to be positive about during the Covid-19 crisis.

Councillor Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council

“We know that this remains an unsettling and difficult time for many people, and that the outbreak of Coronavirus presents a range of challenges for the city.

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Yet, there are so many reasons to be positive. Wherever you choose to look, I am encouraged by the response of our city to adversity.

There is so much to be proud of and inspired by, from the 3000 volunteers who’ve signed up to support the vulnerable, to the dedication of key workers who are working tirelessly to support the people who need it most.

This overwhelming response is one of the things that makes York such a great place to live, and will be the foundation of our recovery and continued success.

Our business community also exemplifies this, with hundreds of businesses having changed their operating models, often prioritising the vulnerable for deliveries, or having developed entirely new products like hand sanitizer or PPE.

The council is playing its part. Our staff are working round the clock to deliver over £100m of support to around 5,500 businesses, as well as launching our own local emergency funds totalling £2.25 million to support the city’s small businesses and residents who are facing financial hardship.

Looking forward, there is no doubt that the outbreak of Coronavirus will have a significant impact on our city, and that is why the creation of well-paid jobs and sustainable communities is essential to the city’s recovery.

We know that regeneration opportunities, such as York Central, are now more important than ever and we will continue to work with our partners, businesses and residents to deliver the very best for York.”

Emma Langton, executive leadership coach, hypnotherapist, workshop trainer & podcaster

“I’ve been working online and in person for a number of years with leaders and organisations on wellbeing. The current crisis is highlighting that lifestyle matters. Finding the balance of work, family, exercise has become a priority and that’s a good thing.

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Instead of being constantly switched on to social media, people are filtering the news and switching off. However, technology is being used more to ensure people stay connected with more than just text or email – it’s getting people talking properly again.

There’s a greater understanding and acceptance of flexible and home working, although people are still learning how to do this well, they’re getting first-hand experience and results are positive.

My hope for the future is that more individuals recognise the need to look after their mental health and stay better connected long after lockdown. Also that business and workplace wellbeing, mental health, resilience will change for the better.”

Nick Bradley, York-based CEO and founder of Mandala Leaders

“I usually work in London as an executive coach helping leaders. The first impact for me was a Cabinet Office project shutting down for 12 weeks but made me think to plan three months ahead and not just the initial three weeks of shutdown.

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Nick Bradley, left, pictured with Ian Garner, a fellow ambassador for the Institute of Directors

Mandala Leaders is a face-to-face business but I had no choice but to pivot into an online business and I immediately offered my digital products free to any other business leaders who would benefit.

Leading a business with furloughed workers or home working is an even lonelier place to lead than usual so I created an online community of local business leaders who could communicate and support each other.

I’ve also been diligent in creating a structured day with work ending so that I can take my daily exercise, creating balance. I have also volunteered for the NHS and make calls to people who are self isolating and offering help. I believe that structured days, more exercise and helping others keeping will be positive in the long term.”

Michelle Mook, managing director, Pro-Development and Chair of York Professionals

“Covid-19 has brought many challenges for Pro-Development, however, as a team, we’ve also been reflecting on some positives it has brought too.

York Press: At the start of this, I set up a virtual support group for local businesses, the People Panel, and have been humbled by the genuine support, openness, resilience and ability to find successes every day together. I believe we will continue long after Covid-19 goes.

Although we’ve been forced into new ways of working, my hope is that our business community will take the learnings from this and continue to build on them. So many people have valued the opportunity to work more flexibly and appreciated the balance this has brought, so let’s continue to support this.

And one thing is for sure, it has absolutely re-enforced how very much I value my team who have been amazing through this time along with the wonderful people with businesses in our area – what an incredible community we have.”

Andrew Digwood, president of York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and partner, Rollits

“From a business perspective, I think a lot of us have discovered just how much we can achieve working from home, whilst being able to spend more/better time with family around our work.

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"I predict a big increase in WFH requests once the world returns to normal (especially with kids back at school). We’ve also all become adept at using a variety of video conferencing tools with a range of hilarious “virtual backgrounds.”