Corona Virus and Small Businesses

Posted 18/03/2020

The first case of Corona Virus, also known as Covid-19, was officially announced as being present in Dumfries and Galloway on the 16th March 2020 in which a test was positive but findings were not conclusive. The Corona Virus is the daily headline featuring in news broadcasts, dating back to December 2019 when it was first discovered. Starting in Wuhan, China, it has now found its way across the seas to Scotland by piggybacking on infected travellers. Other countries, such as France, have enforced lockdowns to control the spread and citizens are only allowed to leave for non-social reasons such as grocery shopping and work.

Symptoms to look out for are: high temperatures and/or fevers, coughing, and suffering from shortness of breath. If you believe yourself to be infected, and have one of the symptoms named, then the Government are advising people to self-isolate themselves for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus. The World Health Organisation has advised against using ibuprofen, and supermarkets are running out of stock as people either panic-buy or prepare for isolation. If you do need to contact the doctor because you have these symptoms you should call in by phone first, and not go down to the emergency rooms without being told to do so.

With self-isolation comes the inability to travel to work sites to carry out jobs. Some employers allow their employees to work from home due to remote access of their computers and freelance workers can carry out some work they are contracted to do from home. The uncertainty of stability comes for those who cannot carry out any work at home and are required to take sick days to cover their isolation period. Statutory sick pay should be available to employees, and to zero-contract workers who earn more than £118 a week.
Authorities will contact small businesses, who are eligible for small business rate relief, rural rate relief or pay little to none business rates from April 2020 regarding cash grants of £10,000 to support them through this pandemic. The local authorities are receiving guidance on the scheme over March. The businesses do not need to do anything nor apply, but to wait for contact.

The Government announced in their Budget for 2020 they have put aside funding for measures to support businesses in hospitality, retail and leisure, and individuals who will suffer financially, and that affected businesses will be given relief on their business rates. Alongside the Government, mortgage lenders are offering help in the form of a ‘3 month Mortgage Holiday’ for those struggling to keep up with payments during this time.

Self-employed individuals do not receive statutory sick pay, but they can receive credits from the Government. These people can apply for Employment and Support Allowance, also known as ESA, or Universal Credit as additional income support. It is important to always be aware of the criteria for these applications; due to the virus spreading they are changing such as the removal of the minimum income floor which can lead to the amount of benefits being received to increase due to loss of earnings.

ESA: https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance
Universal Credit: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit
Employer’s Guidance for Covid-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

Tags: Corona, Corona Virus, Daily News, Business News


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