Lockdown is Extended. What Now?

Lockdown Extended. What Now for Small Businesses, the Self Employed and Hospitality? YBKBS Small Business News for smart business owner
Lockdown Extended. What Now for Small Businesses, the Self Employed and Hospitality?

Yesterday, 14th June, the Prime Minister confirmed that the current lockdown restrictions (with some small exceptions) will be extended through until at least the 19th July. This is unlikely to be welcome news to many people. Most of us were looking forward to returning to full normality next week, and now have to wait a little longer.

As has been the case so many times during this pandemic, this latest update is likely to hit many small businesses particularly hard. 

So what are the new rules, what can you do and not do, and what steps can you take to survive this latest blow?

The new lockdown rules

The current Stage 3 restrictions have been extended due to the Delta variant of Covid-19. This means that the rules that have been in place since mid-May will continue until mid-July. Indoor gatherings at home are restricted to six people or two households, outdoor events and social meets are restricted to 30 people, and the traffic light system for international travel is still in place. 

Good news for the wedding industry… sort of 

If your business falls under the umbrella of the wedding industry, there’s good news for you! Guest limits on weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, and receptions will be scrapped on 21st June and replaced by venue-based limits that take social distancing into account. 

However, there are still a number of restrictions in place. Singing will still not be allowed, and indoor dancing is not permitted either (apart from the first dance.) Guests will have to sit at tables of up to 6 people and reception meals will be table service only. 

Despite these limitations, the relaxing of restrictions will be welcome news for couples hoping to marry soon. They’ll also be welcome for photographers, florists, caterers, and others who serve the wedding industry. If this is you, we recommend reading up on the rules as they pertain to your specific business to make sure you understand the implications. 

Wedding picture, for post about lockdown extention
Leisure and hospitality

Unsurprisingly, leisure and hospitality businesses are among those hit the hardest by the ongoing restrictions. 

Indoor spaces at hospitality venues (such as pubs, cafes, and restaurants) are still allowed to open, but any that serve alcohol must provide table service only. Number limits and social distancing also apply. Entertainment spaces like theatres, cinemas, and bowling alleys are allowed to open, subject to social distancing and number limits. 

While it is great news that these businesses can remain open, the restrictions do present some challenges. If your premises are small or your budget is limited, managing your business in a safe and legal way can put a serious dent in your profits and ability to serve your customers. 

If your business falls into one of these categories, you’ll be used to getting creative to help things stay afloat while remaining within the rules. Can you continue (or ramp up) your takeaway offering, get listed on third-party apps such as Deliveroo or UberEats, or offer gift vouchers for customers to visit when you’re fully open again? 

It might sound counterintuitive, but restricting your opening hours might also help. There’s no point paying wages for seven days a week if you see most of your trade on three days. One of my favourite local venues is currently only opening on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. This allows them to maximise their busy periods and minimise outgoings on days that would be quiet anyway. 

Other entertainment spaces, such as nightclubs, have to remain completely closed for now. So do venues that are too small or set up in such a way that social distancing is impossible. 

Party nightclub
What support is available? 

This new lockdown extension is the latest in a series of blows to the UK’s small business economy. Whether you’re completely closed or open for business in a limited capacity, support is available. But it is often challenging to work out exactly what you might be eligible for. 

We advise taking the time to find out exactly what you can qualify for, and apply for every bit of support available. At times like these, every little helps! 

Use the government’s Coronavirus Support Finder to check what you might be eligible for. A few of the types of support that are still available include:

Deferring VAT payments

If you deferred VAT payments between March and June of last year, you can pay your overdue VAT in equal installments without incurring interest. This prevents a big bill all in one go. But be quick! You only have until 21st June to opt into the scheme. 

Overdue taxes: Time to Pay

If you have been unable to pay your tax bill due to the pandemic, you might be able to get extra time under HMRC’s Time to Pay scheme

Create a job with a Kickstart Grant

The Kickstart Grant scheme provides funding so you can employ a young person (aged 16-24) who is currently unemployed and receiving universal credit. You’ll receive 100% of the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage for up to 25 hours per week, plus National Insurance and pension contributions and support with setup costs. 

So if you’re looking for some extra support but money is tight, give a struggling young person a chance and you’ll inject new life into your team without stretching your staffing budget even further. 

Apply for a recovery loan

The Recovery Loan Scheme is still open and will be available until the end of this year. If you can show that your business has been adversely affected by the pandemic and would otherwise have been viable, you can apply for support of anything from £1,000 to £10 million. 

Don’t forget that this is a loan, not a grant, and you will be responsible for paying it back. But if you need a little extra support to stay afloat until your business can reopen fully, then it’s an option worth considering. 

Check your local council’s funding options

Many local councils throughout the country have been offering Covid recovery grants to small businesses in their area. For example, Leicester City Council is offering one-off “restart grants” if you apply by 30th June, and Kent County Council has a Covid-19 Local Recovery Fund scheme open for applications. 

Check out what your local city or county council has on offer – you might be surprised! 

Don’t despair, you’re not alone

This platform was created for moments like this. We want to be here for you and to support struggling business owners at every stage of pandemic recovery and beyond. Have a read of all of our Covid-19 and Covid support content for advice, tips, strategies, and inspiration, and check out our finance category for help managing your business’s money in this challenging time.

We also can’t recommend talking to other business owners enough. The small business community is a supportive bunch of people and we like to uplift our own. So reach out, whether it’s through LinkedIn, your local networking group, or your social media platform of choice. Talking to others will not only give you perspective and help you feel less alone, but you’ll also get new ideas that you can implement into your business going forward. 

If you’re looking for some more personalised support, this can be a great time to work with an experienced business coach who understands exactly what you’re going through. Marc is currently offering free 30 minute one-to-one consultations. Your call gives you time to focus on YOU and your business, to make a plan, and to take some action to get you unstuck. Get in touch to book now. 

There is life on the other side of this, and you are not alone. Keep breathing and try not to panic. We’ve got you.

Do you have a story?

Do you have a small business success story from the COVID-19 era? Drop us a line if so – we’d love to talk to you.

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