Coronavirus Covid-19

Coronavirus Advice (part three) from NAJ

18 Mar 2020

coronavirus III

Image: Coronavirus Covid-19, image courtesy of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Amid continued pressure to reduce stress on UK health services unprecedented in peacetime, and further work to shield vulnerable groups, the focus of yesterday's Government briefing was on financial support. The State will support businesses and individuals through this disruption.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak reinforced the Government’s commitment to stand behind UK businesses, introducing Government-backed loans totalling £330bn (15% of GDP) for businesses and people in need, and committed to extra provision if demand exceeds this figure.

Package of support headlines:

  • Business interruption loan scheme to be extended (up to £5m with no interest due for 6 months, available from next week)
  • Govt backing on insurance claims for those without business interruption cover
  • Possible “Regulatory forbearance” coming in – what this means is currently unsure
  • Extending business rates holiday (12 months) to all retail and other sectors irrespective of rateable value
  • £25K grants for businesses with less than £51K rateable value
  • Smallest businesses supported with an additional £10K grants
  • Lenders to offer 3-month mortgage holidays for those in financial difficulty
  • Extra support via Local Authorities

N.B. Once we have more details on how to access this support, we will circulate it.

 

NAJ Lobbying

NAJ has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for further clarity and support on key issues that impact the entire jewellery trade.

In the letter signed by Simon Forrester, NAJ Chief Executive, the Association points out liquidity issues which could greatly affect Britain's Jewellery businesses, and action from the government such as declaring high streets off-limits can help retailers claim on their insurance for example. 

The letter also 'implores' the government to consider support in cancelling business rates until the end of 2020, work with HMRC to create payment plans for deferring PAYE, VAT and corporation tax, support banks to provide low-interest loans and extend credit terms as well as support the wages of those made redundant, or offer a universal basic income until the crisis is over. Furthermore, the letter calls for incentives to support UK businesses drive consumers back to the High Street.

Sent on 17 March, following further updates from the NAJ, Chief Executive Simon Forrester said,

"Urgent action from our government can make a difference to the Jewellery Industry. We are doing what we can to support each other but at this stage direct and pressing leadership is crucial. We now await consultation alongside other representatives of high street businesses on the decisions that will for a number mean their survival."

NAJ continues to update its members and supporters via regular updates. You can subscribe to the mailing list whether you are a member or not.

 

Security

SaferGems will like to assure NAJ members that the team are still working hard to support the sector and functioning normally, albeit remotely. We would encourage members to remain vigilant and continue to report suspicious incidents and crime to Police and ourselves.

Due to recent encouragement by the Government for people to work from home, there is a possibility that “cardholder not present” fraud may increase. We would, therefore, urge members to be EXTRA VIGILENT when dealing with such enquires whether it be over the phone or via on-line transactions.

The SaferGems team can be contacted in the normal way either by telephone: 01905 342051 or email: intel@safergems.org.uk

Learn more about SaferGems, A joint TH March and NAJ Initiative

 

Insurances

As everyone is aware, the Coronavirus situation is changing every day and we are very much in unchartered waters.  It is important to be familiar with your policy so that you know what is covered in the event of a business interruption loss. Every insurer and insurance policy is different.

The Association of British Insurers released a statement today advising,

ABI-statement-business-insurance-quote-NAJ

Standard business insurance policies are designed and priced to cover standard risks and are therefore unlikely to provide cover for the effects of global pandemics like Covid-19.  These are unprecedented times and insurers expect the governments globally to support businesses during this period. 

Unfortunately, most insurance companies will not pay out, because most policies do not include cover for notifiable diseases, or only include cover for specified Diseases. Business Interruption insurance generally only responds following physical damage to property at the premises.  

Furthermore many policies contain a General Exclusion in relation to any incident directly or indirectly arising from Pandemic. It’s not very clear at the moment and it won’t be clear until we start to see specific cases and claims coming through and insurers dealing with them.

Some insurers have already confirmed that their policies do not provide insurance cover for any increased costs or lost revenue due to interruption to business caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19). If you have any queries regarding your policy please contact your insurer.

 

Travel

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice.  Please continue to check FCO travel advice on GOV.UK for the latest updates.

 

Social Distancing

New guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable people has been published. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

Business Support

Businesses should read and follow the online guidance for employees, employers and businesses. If you have a query that isn’t covered by this guidance you can contact the Business Support Helpline on: 0300 456 3565

Learn more about the Better Business Support Service

 The Small Business Minister and Small Business Commissioner are calling on the UK’s big businesses to speed up payments to their small business suppliers wherever they can to ease COVID-19 related cash flow issues. You can find more information here  https://www.smallbusinesscommissioner.gov.uk/news/uk-industry-leaders-back-commissioners-call-for-business-to-pay-promptly/

 

Ideas and suggestions

Thank you to the ideas and suggestions put forward from members regarding the actions they are currently taking: 

  • Use an alcohol sanitiser in your regular jewellery cleaning, and tell customers you are doing this
  • Introduce a range of jewellery cleaning products and have them to hand
  • Ensure all PDQ machines, keyboards, iPads etc are cleaned regularly
  • Make sure you have the ability to give out and subsequently safely dispose of sterilising wipes for customers before they try on jewellery
  • Spread deliveries over time to support your suppliers
  • Expect more people to begin to pawn or sell jewellery – work with your local NPA pawnbroker or another NAJ Member if you can’t provide this service.

 

Advice

Steeles Law, a Norwich-based law firm have advised on redundancy, lay-off and short-time working during the COVID-19 crisis.

https://www.steeleslaw.co.uk/redundancy-lay-off-short-time-working-covid-19/

Royds Withy King, NAJ's chosen intellectual property lawyers have produced a practical guide under considerations for your people, keeping the business running and planning for the future. 

https://www.roydswithyking.com/coronavirus/

 

And one final (possible) piece of good news:

In times of crisis the marriage rate goes up significantly; we may find the coronavirus brings people together as never before (or, as one cynic in the NAJ office put it, may cause a lot more divorces!) Plus, it may result in a boom in births in the coming months – perhaps now’s the time to look into christening gifts and children’s jewellery!

Stay positive, and please keep your tips, advice and positive thoughts coming in.

 

Image Credit; Food and Drug Administration, VIRIN: 200129-O-ZZ999-001A

Source: NAJ