COVID-19 bulletin 18 March 2020
The following BMF coronavirus bulletin, contains information on:
- Recent UK government actions and announcements
- Business continuity advice
- Examples of the business responses and best practice around the outbreak
- International developments of relevance to the business community
You can also visit the BMF website for the latest COVID-19 bulletins by clicking here.
1. On Monday 16 March, during the now daily government press conference regarding UK coronavirus developments, the Prime Minister announced the following additional measures in response to accelerating infection rates in the UK:
- In addition to a requirement for individuals showing even mild symptoms of infection to self-isolate for 7 days, those living with others will be required to self-isolate alongside their entire household for an extended total of 14 days.
- All individuals, and especially those in at risk groups (the elderly, pregnant and those with serious health conditions), are advised to avoid any non-essential social contact, travel and mass gatherings; as part of this, all individuals are advised – but not yet required – to avoid pubs, restaurants, theatres and other social forums.
- Businesses are advised to encourage staff to work from home wherever possible; mass gatherings such as sporting and other events will now receive a reduced level of emergency worker support.
- In line with the Prime Minister’s announcements, the government’s coronavirus response hub has been updated with additional guidance for those affected.
The government has unveiled a package of financial measures to shore up the economy against the coronavirus impact.
It includes £330bn in loans, £20bn in other aid, a business rates holiday, and grants for retailers and pubs. Help for airlines is also being considered.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak told a press conference it was an "economic emergency. Never in peacetime have we faced an economic fight like this one."
And he promised that if this package was not enough, he would go further.
From the hospitality industry to the airline sector, companies have warned that their long term survival is under threat.
Mr Sunak said: "This is not a time for ideology and orthodoxy, this is a time to be bold, a time for courage. I want to reassure every British citizen this government will give you all the tools you need to get through this.
"That means any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers or purchase stock will be able to access a government-backed loan or credit on attractive terms.
"And if demand is greater than the initial £330bn [for loans] I'm making available today, I will go further and provide as much capacity as required. I said whatever it takes, and I meant it," he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during the same media briefing that "we must do whatever it takes to support the economy". He added: "This a time to be bold, to have courage. We will support jobs, we will support incomes, we will support businesses... We will do whatever it takes."
2. On Monday 16 March, the Prime Minster took part in a meeting of the G7 that resulted in commitments to take coordinated action to:
- Ensure the stability of the global economy, restore confidence, support global trade and investment, as well as protect jobs.
- Protect people at risk from coronavirus, and encourage related science, research and technology cooperation.
3. On Monday 16 March, the Prime Minister met with representatives from the manufacturing industry to discuss how the sector could help the UK step up production of vital medical equipment.
- Calling for coordinated industry efforts to increase the production of ventilators in particular, businesses interested in supporting this effort can either visit this website or call the BEIS Business Support Helpline (0300 456 3565) to access further information.
4. On Monday 16 March, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) published new cleaning guidance for industry.
- Providing practical advice on how to clean non-healthcare settings where individuals suspected of coronavirus infection have spent time, the advice is aimed at: those in the education sector; providers of detention services; shipping and sea port firms; transport hubs, including airports and train stations; and hotels and day centres.
Business Continuity Advice:
- CBI Advice and guidance is available here.
- Mckinsey have provided an insight for Coronavirus' business impact: Evolving perspective that members may useful reading https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk/our-insights/covid-19-implications-for-business
- Of particular note for members is HMRC’s Time to Pay system, which can help businesses facing short-term cash flow issues. Companies having to access this system can find government advice here. A dedicated helpline has also been launched so businesses in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities can get help fast: 0800 015 9559.
Business responses and best practice:
1. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has prepared advice for how businesses, and particularly business leaders, can communicate with their employees around the coronavirus outbreak.