ATCM's Response to the Coronavirus Crisis

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On the 31st December 2019, the Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) of an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, later classified as COVID-19. This is a new strain of coronavirus not previously seen in humans.

On the 30th January 2020, WHO declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

By the 11th March 2020, WHO declared the outbreak a Pandemic.

The infectious nature of this virus combined with our lack of immunity makes it a potential killer of those who are vulnerable. With no vaccination and no anti-viral medication, many authorities across the world highlight that one of the few measures for slowing the spread of the virus is ‘population distancing strategies’. The impact of this on high streets and town centres is potentially catastrophic, on a level not seen before, even for something that could be short-term.

Following discussions with the Chair of the ATCM Board of Directors and the ATCM Advisory Council, we will be undertaking the following short-term restructure.


The ATCM Board of Directors will, for the short-term, become our COVID-19 Internal Working Group, assessing and responding to the impact of the virus on ATCM and it’s members.

The ATCM Advisory Council will, for the short-term, become our COVID-19 External Working Group, assessing and responding to the impact of the virus on the wider industry, directing our public policy efforts.

Both groups will be involved in delivering the following five point strategy, which will remain flexible as the situation changes. 

ATCM members have already started supporting their towns, cities and nations across the UK and Ireland. Adrian Watson, CEO of Aberdeen Inspired, and an ATCM Board Director has pushed for immediate support for Scotland's businesses. Meanwhile, Public Sector Co-Chair of the ATCM Cities Group, Sara Sutton of Westminster City Council, is helping to coordinate a London-wide approach to COVID-19.


Over the next few weeks, ATCM will:

1. Request that all government administrations put in place immediate, short term, support for high street businesses to deal with liquidity problems, to help them through a challenging few months, if they have not done so already.

2. Develop high level peer-to-peer networking to share experiences and best practice internationally. Also to ensure high quality information is getting to the industry in a timely manner.

3. To gather data on the impact of COVID-19 on high streets and town centres across the UK and Ireland as the crisis progresses.

4. To share that data with policy-makers to support governments in understanding the challenges for high street and town centres for the purpose of working with them to develop a programme of long-term regeneration once the virus has been overcome.

5. To celebrate best practice where our members have been critical to business survival to highlight the contribution of the town and city management industry.

We are working to put this strategy in place immediately, starting with changes to our events programme over the next few months.

We will be back in touch shortly about to keep you up-to-date on what comes next.