Update 16 October 2020
Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions have been introduced for people living in Northern Ireland. These new restrictions have been put in place to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and to help manage the pressures on our health and social care system.
The regulations were introduced on 16 October 2020 and will be in place for four weeks. These tighter regulations include the following restrictions:
- No indoor mixing of households in private dwellings (exemptions apply)
- No more than six people to gather in a private garden from no more than two households
- Bubbling to be limited to a maximum of 10 people from 2 households
- No overnight stays in a private home unless in a bubble
- Work from home unless unable to do so
- An outdoor gathering cannot consist of more than 15 people (exemptions apply)
- Closure of indoor museums, galleries, visitor and other cultural attractions
- Universities and further education to deliver distance learning to the maximum extent possible
- Closure of the hospitality sector apart from deliveries and take-away. Premises to close at 11pm
- No alcohol sold after 8pm in off licences and supermarkets
- Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs only able to operate on a restricted basis
- Closure of close contact services apart from those meeting essential health needs
No indoor sport of any kind or organised contact sport involving household mixing other than at elite level
Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can remain open for individual training only
Places of worship to remain open
Wedding ceremonies to be limited to 25 people with no receptions
Funerals to be limited to 25 people with no pre- or post-funeral gatherings
No unnecessary travel
In order to support business's affected by the new restrictions the following financial support has been announced:
Financial support for impacted businesses
Financial support is available for businesses that have been required to close, or have had business activities at their premises directly curtailed by current health protection regulations. Eligible businesses will receive the following amounts for every week these restrictions apply:
- Small businesses (up to £15,000 Net Annual Value) – £800
- Medium businesses (£15,001 - £51,000 Net Annual Value) – £1,200
- Large businesses (over £51,000 Net Annual Value) – £1,600
Full details on eligibility and how to apply be found here
UK Government support for businesses
The UK Government has set out a package of measures to protect public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. Businesses in Northern Ireland can access the following schemes and announcements:
Businesses will receive government grants worth up to 80% of wages to keep workers in jobs. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will pay up to £2,500 per worker each month.
Support for businesses through the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which will provide loans of up to £5m, with no interest due for 12 months. This scheme will be delivered through the British Business Bank.
Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees.
Support for businesses paying tax.
VAT payments for the next quarter will be deferred, so no business will pay any VAT for the next three months.
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which will see self-employed eligible to receive a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years, bringing parity with Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Northern Ireland Executive support for businesses
Invest NI have provided practical advice for business online here.
Businesses in Northern Ireland can access the following schemes:
COVID Small Business Grant - Small business grant of £10,000 to be issued immediately with a cost of £267m providing support to 27,000 businesses in NI. This is for all businesses with a NAV up to £15,000
Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Sectors Grant Scheme - An immediate grant of £25,000 will be provided to companies in these sectors with a rateable value up to £51,000.
Information on these schemes will be made available at NI Business Info.
Further to this, the Department of Finance has announced a £100m emergency rates package for businesses. All NI businesses will pay zero rates for the next three months (April, May, June). This automatically reduces rates by 25%, in addition to any existing rate reliefs. This applies to all businesses and does not need to be repaid.