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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.

Is there any further information on the businesses in Northern Ireland which are eligible for the hospitality, tourism and retail grant?

Yes. The Northern Irish Executive has published a list of the types of businesses it says should be eligible for the tourism, hospitality and retail grant. This list can be found here.

We have written to NILGA, the body which represents local authorities in Northern Ireland to request that it considers other types of marine business as within the scope of these grants.

We would encourage our members to contact their Local Authority to confirm eligibility.

How does the support announced by the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive differ?

There are a number of similarities. The UK Government has created a separate website which sets out the details of all the support announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This website contains information on who can apply for each measure and whether it is UK-wide, or only available in England.

Most of the measures announced by the UK Government are applicable to businesses in Northern Ireland. The key and notable differences are around the duration of the business rates holiday and the administration of the grants.

Full details of the support for business in Northern Ireland can be found here.

I am a business based in Northern Ireland, am I eligible to receive a grant?

The Northern Ireland Executive is offering two types of grants to businesses affected by COVID-19. These grants are for businesses in the hospitality, tourism and retail sector. The other type of grant is for small businesses. These grants can be broken down as follows:

Hospitality, Tourism and Retail

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced that businesses in the hospitality, tourism and retail sector could be eligible for a £25,000 grant. To apply, a business must have a Total Net Annual Value (NAV) between £15,001 and £51,000. This grant is a one-off payment. 

Small Businesses

Businesses which are in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief in Northern Ireland will be eligible for a £10,000 grant. Business must have a NAV of £15,000 and below to qualify.

In general, only one grant can be paid in respect of each property and only one grant can be paid to each business, irrespective of how many properties the business occupies. If separate businesses are operating from separate properties, then a grant can be registered in relation to each separate business that occupies a separate property.

You must apply for the grants through your local authority.  More information on grant eligibility and details of how to apply can be found here.

Is there a Business Rates holiday in Northern Ireland?

Businesses in Northern Ireland will receive a three-month business rates holiday. This means that business rates will not be charged for April, May or June. This does not apply to the public sector or utility companies. 

We understand that businesses do not need to apply for the holiday, it will be automatically applied by the local authority. More information can be found here


What is the position in Northern Ireland?

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced the reopening of the tourism sector. Caravan parks, camping sites and self-catering tourist accommodation can all now reopen. Hotels and visitor attractions can also reopen, providing they follow the advice issued by the Executive. 

People in Northern Ireland may travel for exercise. Non-contact outdoor activities, including leisure, are permitted providing all the relevant advice is followed.