LONDON, ONT. -- Preventing temporary business closures from becoming permanent, and helping Londoners cope with “physical distancing” will prove increasingly difficult as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“COVID-19 will be the nail in the coffin of the downtown unless the city does something to help small business,” says Myles Clarke, owner of Talbot Pawn Brokers.

“You could practically shoot a cannon downtown, as you can see, there’s no street traffic at all which means the businesses are really suffering."

In response to the ever expanding local impacts caused by the pandemic, the mayor’s office has just announced creation of a pair of task forces.

“While both groups have separate areas of focus, they share a common objective,” explains Mayor Ed Holder, who is self isolating after a recent trip to the U.S.

The first, dubbed The Mayor’s Economic Impact & Recovery Task Force, will work with London’s business and industry leaders to understand and address the economic impacts.

The second, The Mayor’s Social Impact & Recovery Task Force will partner city hall with the United Way to bring together stakeholders supporting London’s ‘most vulnerable’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to understand and hear, first-hand, the impact of COVID-19 on key stakeholders in our community so as to identify concrete actions that can be taken by Londoners and London organizations,” says Holder.

“We’ve seen, already, the significant strain this has had on London businesses and workers from a financial perspective,” explains Acting Mayor Jesse Helmer in the written statement.

Adding, “Equally important however is the strain this has placed on London’s most vulnerable, and organizations and agencies who provide them support."

Both task forces will hold their first meeting by teleconference on Friday.