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The business community reacted to the measures announced on Friday and over the weekend.
Chloe Shakesby

COVID-19: Businesses react to the latest measures

On Friday (20 March) the government announced that all pubs, restaurants, clubs and gyms were to close immediately.

The Prime Minister also unveiled the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will see the government provide unlimited grants to businesses to pay 80 per cent of staff salaries up to £2500 a month.

Over the weekend, the government also announced that people in vulnerable groups should self-isolate for 12 weeks.

The business community reacted to the measures.

Desley Sherwin, Roythornes Solicitors

“This evening (20 March) the chancellor has announced “unprecedented” economic measures to protect businesses and workers.

“Thousands of people, who surely expected to be plunged into unemployment and financial difficulty, have just been thrown a lifeline by these measures.”

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region

“The chancellor has recognised the strain COVID-19 is putting on our economy and I welcome the additional measures for workers and businesses.

“But the government must move urgently to get cash where it is most needed.

“Every hour matters and we need this money to flow into the bank accounts of South Yorkshire’s workers and businesses.

“A lack of cash-flow is crippling families and firms. The closure of pubs and cafes, while sensible on public health grounds, will add to the pressure over the weekend.

“If we take bold and decisive action, we can keep our economy afloat.

“As Mayor I am exploring every option to make that happen and am working around the clock to protect jobs and businesses across our region.”

**Peter Jackson, Northumberland County Council **

“I am acutely aware of the economic impact to all our communities, and we are working on ways that the council can assist residents across the county, particularly those in most need.

“We will also work with businesses in helping them to access key grants and loan schemes that have been made available to them.

“Indeed, a recovery plan is already being developed to support organisations following the outbreak.

“Please be assured that for council suppliers and contractors the message is very clear - it’s business as usual - and we’re committed to doing our bit to keep businesses going.”

“The announcements made today really will affect all of us - life will change as we know it for the foreseeable future.

“However, the financial measures to protect jobs, incomes and businesses are certainly welcome economic interventions in this continued and unprecedented period of uncertainty.

“Now more than ever it is crucial that we work in partnership to safeguard our communities and our great county.”

**Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses **

“The closure of thousands of small businesses on our high streets will threaten futures.

“It’s critical that the cash grants being made available to those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors reach them as swiftly as possible – and extension of their scope to other sectors given serious consideration.

“Insurers must stand ready to help those with business interruption policies.

“The coronavirus job retention scheme marks an unprecedented intervention. Executed swiftly, it will protect livelihoods and the viability of small employers.

“Putting a straightforward application process in place for the scheme will be central to its success. Many small employers will today be breathing a huge sigh of relief.

“However, the fact that it will not be operational for a month means many small employers are still presented with an immediate, potentially terminal cash flow crunch.

“Therefore it’s vital that banks play their part, and ensure that any small business owner seeking a 12 month interest free loan from Monday is helped immediately – there are no excuses.

“While it was encouraging to hear the chancellor pledge his support for the self-employed today – with a commitment to defer self-assessment and VAT bills and suspend the Minimum Income Floor – this government has a long way to go to show it’s on the side of our five million-strong self-employed community.

“Over the coming days, we need to see the chancellor map out how he will directly support the self-employed in the same way as he has committed to directly support employees.

“The question at this point is – with firms being force to close – why have the self-employed been excluded from the commitment to pay 80 per cent of earnings?

“It cannot be right that an employee currently earning £25k a year could access £20k per annum through the new job retention scheme, while someone who’s self-employed earning the same sum might only access around £5k worth of support.

“We need to see the Prime Minister’s ‘whatever it takes’ approach extended to the self-employed – that means following the lead of other nations by guaranteeing 80 per cent of incomes for those who lose work.”

**Duncan Bannatyne OBE **

“All of our members will be disappointed they can’t attend their health club in the usual way, but Boris is right that we need to take further radical action to stop this dangerous virus.

“We want to play our part in beating COVID-19, and we will do so without costing our dedicated staff their jobs.

“The announcement of that the government will cover a significant proportion of our wage bill, together with business rate support, gives me the confidence to keep my business ticking over ready for the end of this emergency.”

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