It’s hard to believe that we are heading into our second Easter with many of our businesses in lockdown and others with the majority of their staff working from home. Thankfully, the number of cases in our area is declining and the roll out of the vaccine has made a real difference.
Many businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors are frustrated by the lack of definitive opening dates from the NI Executive. The more than 400 business who wrote to the First and Deputy First Minister this week is a clear indication of that frustration. Nobody wants to open before it is safe to do so and nobody wants another lockdown, but dates would give them confidence about the future.
As I write this, I understand the NI Executive has confirmed that garden centres and nurseries can now offer click and collect services. If we receive any further update, we will provide it to members.
On behalf of the Chamber, I wish everyone a good Easter and I hope this is the last in lockdown.
Finally, don’t forget to join our three Facebook Groups, which have been set up by the Chamber to support local businesses.
Chief Executive Officer
Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade
OPEN LETTER FROM NI BUSINESS OWNERS & LEADERS
TO THE FM & dFM ON REOPENING THE ECONOMY
Great to see the united voice of 407 businesses across NI, including 70 from the Greater Newry Area, calling on the FM & dFM for a planned reopening of the economy.
Their open letter to the First & Deputy First Minister is a measured and balanced response to the enormous challenges they now face.
A proper timetabled plan for the reopening of the retail and hospitality sectors would give them something to plan for and help restore confidence that they have a future.
CLICK HERE TO READ LETTER & VIEW ALL 407 NAMES.
RESTRICTIONS BUSINESS SUPPORT SCHEME EXTENDED
The Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds MLA has reopened the COVID Restrictions Business Support Scheme to support those businesses directly impacted by the Health Protection Regulations.
Businesses forced to close or severely limit their operations as a result of the increased Health Protection Regulations, can apply to the scheme, if they meet the eligibility criteria.
If you missed applying before the scheme previously closed you can now apply. If your application is successful, any grant payment will be backdated to the date your business was required to close or cease trading as a result of the Health Protection Regulations.
Please note that the deadline for new applications to the COVID Restrictions Business Support Scheme, Part A and Part B schemes has now been extended to 6pm on Wednesday 7th April 2021.
CLICK HERE FOR FURTHER INFO.
MINIMUM WAGE RATES INCREASE FROM TODAY
Employers should be aware that all minimum wage rates increase on 1st April of each year.
This includes all National Minimum Wage rates and the National Living Wage rate.
The new minimum wage rates apply to eligible workers in Northern Ireland from 1st April 2021.
You should note that the National Living Wage is currently available to those who are 25 years old and over but this will be extended to 23 and 24 year olds from 1st April 2021.
CLICK HERE FOR FURTHER INFO.
FRONTIER WORKER PERMIT SCHEME
UK Government has updated its guidance to clarify rules around eligibility for the Frontier Worker Permit Scheme, and is encouraging employers to share information about the scheme with frontier workers.
A frontier worker is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who is employed or self-employed in the UK, but resident elsewhere. If a frontier worker was working in the UK on or before the 31st December 2020 they can still enter the UK for work and are eligible to apply for a permit.
Frontier workers who want to work in the UK from the 1st January 2021, and who were not working in the UK before, will need to apply for a visa.
Frontier workers who were working in the UK before the 1st January 2021 must hold a frontier worker permit to enter the UK for work from 1st July 2021 onwards.
WORKSHOPS: INVEST NI PRACTICAL IMPORT SKILLS
Discover the skills that you need to sell outside NI with Invest NI’s Practical Export Skills Programme.
The Programme will equip you with the necessary skills to sell your goods and services outside Northern Ireland. You don’t have to be exporting right now, you might just be thinking about it.
Providing practice-based advice and guidance, the Practical Export Skills Programme gives new, emerging exporters the opportunity to develop their knowledge of exporting processes and help experienced exporters refresh and update their understanding of best practices.
Workshops priced at £50 per person, per workshop.
WORKSHOP: Export Documentation & Logistics
Thurs 29th April 2021, 9:30am – 2pm – REGISTER HERE
WORKSHOP: Online & Telesales, Prospecting & Networking
Thurs 6th May 2021, 9:30am – 2pm – REGISTER HERE
WORKSHOP: Social Media for Sales Optimisation
Tues 18th May 2021, 9:30am – 2pm – REGISTER HERE
WORKSHOP: Develop & Deliver a Compelling Sales Pitch
Wed 2nd June 2021, 9:30am – 2pm – REGISTER HERE
WORKSHOP: Effective Selling Skills
Thurs 17th June 2021, 9:30am – 2pm – REGISTER HERE