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COVID-19 UPDATE: Tuesday 24th March 2020 (Issue No.6)

This is a critical week in preventing the further spread of COVID-19. We are still not at the peak of this public health emergency and the message is clear, unless your work is essential, you should stay at home.

By staying at home, you will protect yourself, your colleagues and your family, as well as lessening the pressure on our stretched health service.

On the business front, businesses still need answers to a number of key questions around packages announced last week. We have been pushing hard on your behalf for answers. It looks like the business grants may be paid directly based on the information that Land & Property Services (LPS) holds.

We understand from Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, MLA that a portal for this may be launched tomorrow. We will keep you informed.

I spoke with an NIO Minister yesterday about the self-employed and our understanding is that additional support for the self-employed is being worked on by the Treasury. We also need clarity on the definition of a “Furlough Worker” to help businesses make decisions on how they can apply this measure to their business.

Once we know the answers to these questions, we will get this information to you.

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

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

CAN YOUR BUSINESS HELP OUR HEROIC HEALTH WORKERS?

Can your business DONATE any of these ITEMS for PPE Equipment and for our Heroic Health Workers?

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

  • 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

We are in awe at the bravery, commitment and selflessness of the men and women working within our health service, in the most challenging of circumstances.

We know it is an extremely uncertain time for our businesses. However, one thing that we are certain of is, the generosity and togetherness of our businesses when times get tough and we asking you to help out in the fight against COVID-19, if you are in a position to do so.

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.

ALL MOT TESTING SUSPENDED IMMEDIATELY

The Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) has suspended all MOT tests for three months with immediate effect.

All HGV and PSV vehicles with an MOT will be issued with a 3-month Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC).

Work is underway to put a solution in place for four year old cars and taxis. At present, there is no legal way of issuing TECs for these vehicles. Urgent work is underway to resolve this issue and the Department for Infrastructure expect to update the public later.

Vehicle owners are required by law to ensure that their vehicle must be maintained, kept safe to drive (roadworthy) and operate within the terms of operators’ licence conditions.

In considering the latest health advice, DVA has put in place additional measures to protect their staff and as a result, at this time, they are unable to accept any further first time driver licence applications.

They are processing a limited number of paper driving licence applications for HGVs. However, they are now asking anyone requiring a driving licence renewal for a car, tractor or motorbike to apply online. They will not be processing postal renewals for these categories. Requests already in the system will now be returned and should be submitted online.

UPDATE FROM SRC

All SRC campuses are now closed following the Prime Minister’s statement on 23/03/2020. The College’s Business Support Staff are available by phone and email as normal and are engaging with existing clients to determine how they can continue to support them through online and digital channels, where possible. 

They also continue to advise and support employers with planned Apprenticeships and Higher Level Apprenticeships for September 2020. 

Please contact the Business Support Team on:

T: 028 3025 9664
E: betterbusiness@src.ac.uk

UPDATE FROM NMEA

Key members of the Newry & Mourne Co-operative & Enterprise Agency have now commenced remote working from home in line with their business continuity and resilience protocol.

Their sites at WIN Business Park, Flurrybridge, Warrenpoint and Kilkeel remain open for essential services such as food production, manufacturing, distribution and equipment maintenance services.

There will be a skeleton staff of volunteers on site maintaining essential site support services including access, security, waste, customer enquiries, telephone and post.

Their business services programme managers are liasing with contract commissioners and funders to develop service adaptations including the collation, development and dissemination of a range of online resources.

They will be switching from face-to-face support to providing 1-1 Phone, Skype and Zoom sessions (details to be confirmed later.)

The agency will endeavour to source advice and mentoring support for business owners, social entrepreneurs and various training programme participants. They will be providing information and updates to clients through their social media platforms, directly via Phone, Whatsapp and Video Conferencing.

Their management and staff will continue to respond flexibly to what is a unique and rapidly changing situation.

Updates to follow.