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COVID-19 UPDATE: Tuesday 28th April 2020 (Issue No.24)

As a Chamber, we are working hard through our regular updates and webinars to keep members up to date with the latest issues around the impact of COVID-19.

This afternoon, I spoke with the NI Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, MLA and his Permanent Secretary, Sue Gray on behalf of members.

I have provided a summary below of our discussions.

We also have a request from St. Mary’s HS, Newry and St. Mark’s HS, Warrenpoint for help with their project to make Face Shields for our healthcare workers.

They urgently need EVA Foam and I’m hoping that some of our members can help. 

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.

You can contact me at:

Stay safe.

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


I had a useful meeting this afternoon with Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, MLA and his Permanent Secretary, Sue Gray.

Some key points include:

  • 18,700 of the £10k grants for small businesses have been paid out. A portal on the website is due to open this week for businesses where the landlord pays the rates.
  • £40m has been set aside for a hardship fund, for businesses not covered by the grant scheme. More details expected on this in the coming week.
  • The Dept. of Finance has been in discussion with the construction industry about the return to safe working, processing tenders quickly and future procurement. The Minister also stressed the importance of prompt payment.
  • The Dept. of Finance is working with the University of Ulster to cost a variety of options for tailored/targeted support for business rates. This will be subject to agreement with the NI Executive and the availability of funding.
  • Land Registry will be open from Monday 4th May 2020 (not for walk-ins) to begin clearing the backlog and dealing with priority cases. 
  • Stressed the importance of a connected approach to reopening between GB, NI and RoI. 
  • Recognised the value of City Deals & Growth Deals as part of the long-term recovery. This will be important for the Greater Newry Area.
  • The current crisis has brought into focus the need for greater digitisation of public services.
  • Recognised the value that District Councils had at a local level during the current emergency.
  • The Dept. of Finance has been working on a connectivity package for our Airports, Ports and Freight Industry.

The meeting involved the CEO’s of Newry, Belfast, Derry and Causeway Chambers. It provided a valuable opportunity for the four Chambers, whose members employ some 100,000 people, to brief the NI Finance Minister about the economic impact on our own areas and the importance of a focused recovery plan.


The Chancellor announced yesterday further support for small businesses, with a 100% guarantee from government for a loan of between £2,000 and £50,000.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme will be launched on Monday 4th May 2020.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.

The UK government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Loan terms will be up to 6 years.

No repayments will be due during the first 12 months and the government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

You can apply for a loan, if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • has been negatively affected by COVID-19
  • was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31st December 2019

The following business are not eligible to apply for a loan:

  • banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • public-sector bodies
  • further-education establishments, if they are grant-funded
  • state-funded primary and secondary schools

If you’re already claiming funding:
You cannot apply for the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme, if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Please Note:
If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under (CBILS) and would like to transfer it into the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme, you can arrange this with your lender until 4th November 2020.

How To Apply:
The Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme will launch on 4th May 2020.
Further information about the scheme will be published shortly.


St. Mary’s HS, Newry and St. Mark’s HS, Warrenpoint have teamed up to produce COVID-19 Face Shields for workers who may be exposed to COVID-19 within our healthcare system.

The Technology & Design Departments within the schools are running critically short of EVA Foam which they use in the production of Face Shields.

We are appealing to our members and your connections within local industry to see if your business or a business that you know, can either help donate or sell EVA Foam to ensure that this fantastic community project continues to produce Face Shields.

They urgently need:
EVA Foam Sheets with a minimum thickness of 25mm.

If you can help or know someone who can, please get in contact with:
Brendan Morgan – 07874 349 518 or Ciara Doyle – 07902 355 351

Please see the link below, relating to the Face Shield Project.