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COVID-19 UPDATE: Monday 30th March 2020 (Issue No.10)

We start another week of what is a virtual closedown for many of our businesses. At the same time we applaud our health and social service workers and the challenging circumstances they continue to work in.  

We don’t forget the other essential service workers keeping our communities operational and safe. And of course the many workers keeping the food on our tables. 

As a Chamber we will continue to keep you up to-date with the latest information. In this update, we provide the latest information from the NI Executive Office on the businesses that can open and those which should close, as well as advice on staying in doors and avoiding public gatherings.

There is also information from BT on brushing up on your online skills, including video and teleconferencing.

You probably have a bit more time on your hands to hang out with fellow member, RNN Communications in their FREE Virtual Hangout Sessions.

Intrigued? See below for how it could benefit your business. 

I hope you find these updates of value. If you have any queries which you can’t get answered, let us know. If I can, I 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 last two weeks has seen a comprehensive package of support measures announced for businesses and the self employed. It is challenging to keep across all the announcements and what is relevant to you as a business.

nibusinessinfo has compiled a comprehensive quick guide to all the schemes.

Always consider what is best for your business and seek professional advice from your accountant and, in the case of staff contracts, from your HR or Legal Adviser.

Most of our local banks are signed up to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and your Bank Adviser would also be a useful contact to speak to. 


New measures to fight coronavirus require closure of all non-essential shops and public spaces.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, the NI Executive has introduced new measureseffective from 11pm on Saturday 28th March 2020, which require that: 

  • all non-essential shops and public spaces must close;
  • people must not leave their home without a ‘reasonable excuse’ except for very limited purposes; and
  • all gatherings of more than two people in public must stop.

The relevant authorities, including the police, have been given the powers to enforce the measures, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

Penalties ranging from fixed penalty notices to fines of up to £5,000 are being introduced to enforce the new powers.

Non-Essential Premises That Must Close
You can view the full list of non-essential businesses and premises that must close due to these new measures here.

Essential Businesses That Should Continue To Trade
You can view the full list of essential businesses that can continue to operate but are under a legal duty to follow social distancing measures here.

Online retail remains open and postal and delivery service will run as normal.


As well as the closure of all non-essential shops, the new measures also introduce restriction on people’s movement, requiring people to stay at home and mean that no-one may leave their home without reasonable excuse.

A reasonable excuse includes the need: 

  • to obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies.
  • to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household.
  • to seek medical assistance.
  • to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person or to provide emergency assistance.
  • to donate blood.
  • to travel for purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living.
  • to attend the funeral of a family member.

All public gatherings of more than two people are also prohibited, except where the gathering is of a group of people who live together, for example:

  • a parent taking their children to the shops, if they can’t leave them at home.
  • where the gathering is essential for work purposes, however, workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.

The regulations state that no person may participate in a gathering in a public place of more than two people except:

  • where all the persons in the gathering are members of the same household.
  • where the gathering is essential for work purposes; and
  • to attend a funeral. 

In addition, all social events including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies, must stop. This excludes funerals, which can be attended by immediate family. 


Coronavirus has plunged us all into an unfamiliar world where many of us are cut off, physically at least, from family, friends, co-workers and the outside.

The rapid spread of the virus globally and the impact this is having on the way we all live our lives, means that having digital skills is more important now than it’s ever been.

Our member, BT made a commitment last year to help more people and businesses make the most of tech and give them the skills they need.

That’s why they have launched their new ‘BT Skills For Tomorrow Programme‘, to provide free digital skills training to millions of people across the country.

The easy to use and accessible resources are there to help older people, vulnerable people and those who are less confident in their digital skills to stay in contact with family and friends, keep up to date and get healthcare advice.

There is guidance on accessing and understanding public services online, such as GP services, local council and NHS websites, browsing the internet, using search engines, video calling, online banking, online shopping and socialising online using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

BT have also teamed up with Google Digital Garage, Small Business Britain and LinkedIn Learning to create numerous useful guides for small businesses on how to do business online and develop effective digital skills.

They’re also supporting small businesses via webinars, to help with things like online presence, digital marketing, data analytics, social media and collaboration tools.

For more information and to access the resources, please click here.


Our member and current NI Outstanding Small Communications Agency of the Year, RNN Communications are offering FREE Online Virtual Hangout Sessions to businesses.

The sessions will take place, once arranged with the team at RNN Communications on Wednesday afternoons and Thursday morningsover the next six weeks, commencing from 1st April 2020.

So, if you’re an SME who’s thinking about how they can produce more social content, a business owner looking for ideas on how to diversify during the current period or larger business with crisis comms questions, RNN Communications are here to help you by kindly offering their time and expertise for FREE.


  • A 30-60 minute Google Hangout Session.
  • FREE consultancy time with a team of expert communicators, covering all aspects of comms.
  • Confidential sessions to help you and your business.
  • A sounding board for new ideas.

All they ask in return is that you stay indoors and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

E: info@rnncommunications.com

To read more about this fantastic offering, please click here.