Empty Street

Small business owners have reacted furiously to the latest government update advising the public not to visit bars, restaurants, clubs and theatres.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued the advice in his first daily televised update on the Coronavirus outbreak. However, small business owners were quick to air their anger.

By advising the public not to go, rather than forcing these types of venues to close, businesses will not be able to claim on business continuity/loss of business insurance.

The Unite union described these businesses as being “in limbo” and warned that up to one million jobs could be lost in the hospitality industry as a result.

Having seen French President Emmanuel Macron promise that ‘no business of any size will be lost’ as a result of the pandemic, the union called on the government to cover the wages of all staff that would otherwise be laid off or work for businesses that are likely to go bust.

In Northern Ireland, the tourism industry told the country’s economy minister that 3,000 businesses may not survive without immediate government support.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, described the decision not to force closures as “catastrophic”.

She said: “The government has effectively shut the hospitality industry without any support, and this announcement will lead to thousands of businesses closing their doors for good, and hundreds of thousands of job losses.

“Over the past few weeks, the industry has suffered unprecedented drops in visits and many business are already on their knees. This latest advice leaves the industry in limbo, with no recourse to insurance.”

Helpline

Yesterday (Monday), HMRC announced the launch of a dedicated helpline for small businesses impacted by the spread of Coronavirus.

HMRC is urging any business owner or self-employed worker that is concerned about paying their tax bill as a direct result of Coronavirus to call 0800 0159 559.

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