‘We help our members grow through a variety of networking opportunities.’

COVID-19 UPDATE: Friday 27th March 2020 (Issue No.9)

I have received further information on how the Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) will operate and this is provided below.

Please consider this carefully before making decisions about laying off or making staff redundant.

I have also included an update from NI Water on protecting your premises from burst pipes and I have published again the Chancellor’s support for the self-employed which I covered in yesterday’s update.

On behalf of the business community and our members I would like to pay tribute to our Health Service Staff for their work in keeping us safe and looking after those people who are ill at the moment. The Chamber has put out an appeal for items needed by the Health Service. Thank you to all the businesses who have offered support. If you haven’t responded yet and can help please get in touch with the Trust.

Also, we must not forget alI those working in the other essential services at the moment. There are too many to list but everyone from the Police keeping us safe, to Council Staff emptying our bins and avoiding a build up of waste, to shopkeepers, chemists, butchers and supermarkets, the delivery drivers and of course the people working in factories to keep the food on our tables.

There are others and of course, we should not forget the many volunteers and community workers, supporting the elderly and those who need our support at this difficult time.

We are now entering a crucial period for the spread of COVID-19. The weekend is here and all of us can play a part in fighting the virus. Please ensure your household and everyone in it, including the children, follow the public health advice and help break the spread of the virus.

We hope you find these updates of value, however, if you have any queries which you can’t get answered, let us know. If we can, we will cover them in our next update.

Monitor our social media channels and check your email inbox for regular updates.

You can contact me at:

Stay safe.

Colm Shannon,
Chief Executive Officer
Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade


The Chancellor announced last week details of the:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

This is a temporary scheme, open to all UK employers for at least three months starting on 1st March 2020. 

Employers can use a portal that will be set up by HMRC to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contribution on that wage.

If you plan to put any of your workers on the ‘Furlough Scheme’, it is important that you read this guidance carefully.

Guidance on this scheme can be found here.

If in doubt seek advice from your accountant or HR adviser.


As a reminder, here is the information we published last night about the support for self-employed and freelance workers.

In summary they are:

  • Self-employed people will be able to apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last 3 years, up to £2,500 a month.
  • The scheme will last for 3 months and should be operational by June.
  • It will apply to those with trading profits up to £50,000 a year.
  • You must make the majority of your income from self-employment and have filed a tax return for 2019.
  • If you haven’t filed your tax return, a further 4 weeks will be given to complete your return.


NI Water is advising non-domestic customers to be mindful of their water needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. With many properties closing their doors for a period of time and students leaving rented accommodation, NI Water is asking businesses and property owners to check their water supply is safely secured before they lock up.

Leaking or burst pipes can have significant implications for your business. In this period of uncertainty, securing your water supply is something you can do until your doors open again.  

They are asking non-domestic customers to turn off all non-essential water in buildings which are not going to be in use for a period of time, including, for example, the automatic flushing of urinals. 

NI Water has over 80,000 business customers. Large leaks that go undetected can have a major impact on water supplies that are essential for the health and wellbeing of all customers. Even more so now at this difficult time.    

Information on water supply issues is available 24/7 simply by logging onto:

NI Water’s Customer Relations Centre is available on a 24 hours a day / 365 days a year basis via Waterline on:

03457 440088


The Southern Health & Social Care Trust has been in contact with Newry Chamber, seeking some items from local businesses.

If you have already offered help, thank you, if you haven’t and think you can help, below is a list of products, they would be interested in:

Current list of items needed for staff within the Southern Health & Social Care Trust:

  • Masks, Gowns & Gloves
  • Male/Female Antiperspirant
  • Male/Female Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Male/Female Shower Gels
  • Hand Creams
  • Packets of Tissues
  • Toothpaste 
  • Toothbrushes
  • Mouthwash
  • Facial Wash
  • Moisturiser
  • Eye Masks 
  • Ear Plugs
  • Combs
  • Sanitary Towels
  • Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Milk & Bottles Water
  • Wrapped Chocolate/Cereal Bars
  • Boxes of Oranges

If you can help with the provision of these items, please contact Paula Tally in the Southern Health & Social Care Trust for further instructions on:

E: paula.tally@southerntrust.hscni.net

Thank you.


We are conscious that businesses have been in contact with the local District Council and other stakeholders to see how they can help combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

In order to centralise these offers, any business that feels their services could be of use should contact:



As a result of COVID-19, from Monday 30th March 2020, Translink will be introducing a ‘no change policy’ on board all bus and train services.

Passengers must tender the correct change to purchase a ticket on board any service in order to help reduce contact between Translink staff and passengers at this time. Those purchasing tickets will still be able to receive change, however, they too are strongly encouraged to tender the correct change.

More information can be found below: