Coronavirus / COVID-19 Update

Coronavirus / COVID-19 is having a significant impact on London’s business community. As part of the service we provide to our members, we take every opportunity to represent your concerns to policy makers. We are speaking with Westminster City Council, our fellow Business Improvement Districts, and with local businesses to understand the impact the virus is having on our members and on the wider economy around Marble Arch and Edgware Road.

Marble Arch London will continue to deliver much-needed services for our members, both during and as we emerge from this crisis to facilitate recovery. We are sharing best practice and collaborating with our colleagues from BIDs across Westminster, no business is immune from the impact of this crisis and we want to make sure all businesses have the support they need.

We will keep you updated as our response to Coronavirus develops, and in the meantime we welcome any feedback on how the outbreak is affecting your business. Please email getinvolved@marble-arch.london

We strongly advise following the Government’s official guidance on all aspects of the outbreak.

 

Current situation – Updated 30 March 9:27am

  • Schools in the UK closed their doors on 20 March 2020 except for vulnerable pupils or children of key workers.
  • All UK bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants closed on 20 March 2020, along with nightclubs, theatres, gyms and leisure centres.
  • A further list of shops and businesses that must close was announced on 23 March 2020.
  • New rules in place from 23 March 2020: You must stay at home apart from essential travel or you may be fined. Only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work. Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people. Click here to read the full guidance on staying at home and away from others. 
  • The NHS will contact up to 1.7 million vulnerable individuals and ask them to stay inside for 12 weeks. A full list of those considered ‘at risk’ and the advice they should be following is available here.
  • The Chancellor announced a further raft of Support for Businesses on 20 March 2020, including assistance for a new Job Retention Scheme. The government is to pay 80% of wages for employees not working, up to £2,500 a month. It is understood that the wage subsidy will apply to businesses that have already had to lay off workers due to the virus, as long they are brought back into the workforce and instead granted a leave of absence.
  • The self-employed will receive a direct cash grant of 80% of their average profits, up to £2,500 per month. Click here to read the announcement.
  • On 29 March 2020, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer said the Government was confident that it would be on top of the outbreak within 12 weeks but the lockdown will be reviewed in a couple of weeks to assess the impact. However, even if there has been a positive impact on flattening the peak, it will take at least six months to decide whether things can start to return to normal. This return to normality will be a gradual, staged process.

Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives

On 23 March 2020, the Prime Minister strongly reinforced that people should be staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

People are now only allowed to leave their homes for:

  • Shopping for basic necessities such as food, as infrequently as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day – A run, walk, or cycle, alone or with members of your household.
  • Any medical need or to provide care for a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where it is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

The Government will also:

  • Close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores, as well as other premises like libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms, and places of worship.
  • Stop all gatherings of more than two people in public.
  • Stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but allow funerals.

Further guidelines:

  • Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.
  • People should not meet their friends or family members they don’t live with.
  • The police will enforce these restrictions by fines or dispersal orders as necessary.
  • The following measures will initially last for the three weeks from 23 March 2020, at which point the Government will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.
  • Full guidance is available here.

 

Marble Arch London Team:

  • The Marble Arch BID will continue to deliver much-needed services for our members, both during and as we emerge from this crisis to facilitate recovery. We are adopting a more agile way of working with regular team communication with members. We are keen to remain positive and will continue to adapt to support our members in any which way we can. If you have any information you would like to share on how COVID-19 is impacting your business please get in touch with the team: getinvolved@marble-arch.london
  • We are continuing to operate our Street Team, now from 12:00-8:00pm, supporting our operational members and ensuring the security of those stores that have temporarily closed. Their rota and breaks have been adjusted so they have more frequent access to hand-washing facilities. They have also been trained to stand side-on rather than face-to-face with members of the public.
  • We have postponed all events, such as The Great British Spring Clean and the Marylebone Food Festival, as well as external meetings.
  • We are reviewing our renewal ballot timetable and will update our members as the situation becomes clearer.

Support Measures:

We are discussing options to support businesses during this period and during recovery and will keep members updated. You can find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply, here.

  • Due to the lack of support for businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,000 in the Budget and with many high street businesses facing severe cash-flow problems, on 16 March 2020 the Marble Arch London joined major national trade bodies and campaigners to call for the Budget’s business rate holiday for small high street businesses to be extended immediately to the other 70% of high street companies, regardless of size.
  • The Chancellor announced additional support on 17 March 2020 for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors during the outbreak in response to the main concerns expressed to the Government by national industry bodies, the Retailer Rates Action Group, Marble Arch London, and our fellow BIDs.
  • Following our lobbying, business rates relief was extended to the following sectors on 25 March 2020: employment agencies, estate agents, casinos, clubs, wellness centres and spas. For more information on Business Rates relief, please read Business Rates – Expanded Retail Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response – Local Authority Guidance
  • The Chancellor announced a further raft of Support for Businesses on 20 March 2020, including assistance for a new Job Retention Scheme, deferral of VAT and a Business Interruption Loan Scheme. You can find out more on the Job Retention Scheme and furlough here.
  • The UK Government announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis will be protected from eviction for at least three months. Read the announcement here.
  • The self-employed will receive a direct cash grant of 80% of their average profits, up to £2,500 per month. The scheme is open to anyone with average profits of £50,000 or less and will operate for 3 months initially but could be extended. The grants won’t be available until June, at which time those eligible will receive a payment for the whole three month period. So in effect, this will be a one-off grant to the self-employed.
  • On 28 March 2020, Business Secretary Alok Sharma outlined a series of temporary relaxation of regulations to ease further the pressure on businesses. These include measures to allow workers to carry-over leave that would have been taken during the lockdown period into the next two years, give companies a three month extension for filing of annual accounts, improve the insolvency system to help keep companies trading, and temporarily suspend certain personal obligations on company directors to remove threats regarding insolvency.
  • Following the announcement on 18 March 2020 regarding loans and grants available for businesses in the wake of the Coronavirus, the government have set up a helpline. You can call the Business Support Helpline (England) on 0300 456 3565 Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.
  • The Mayor of London has contributed £1 million to create a new emergency fund for community and voluntary sector organisations affected by the impact of the virus. The Mayor joined City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, and London Funders, a network of investors of London’s civil society, to launch the new fund – with an initial £1 million provided by City Hall and £1 million from City Bridge Trust.
  • The government will bring forward legislation to allow businesses with less than 250 employees to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19 for up to two weeks (Source: HM Treasury)
  • HMRC set up a COVID-19 helpline. Advisers can talk to you about problems paying your taxes due to COVID-19 via webchat or phone.
  • To support businesses in London, the London Growth Hub has brought together essential resources to help businesses manage and mitigate its exposure to the impact of coronavirus. Find out more here.

Business Insurance:

  • Standard business insurance policies are designed and priced to cover standard risks and are therefore very unlikely to provide cover for the effects of global pandemics like COVID-19. This includes forced closure by the authorities.
  • Businesses may have chosen to purchase cover that will specifically provide for business interruption arising from notifiable or infectious diseases. For certain notifiable disease extensions cover may apply if other policy conditions are met. However, this type of extension is not commonly included as standard. Furthermore, the likely costs to businesses of cover that would include more unusual risks – such as those posed by new diseases – would be prohibitive.
  • Most ‘notifiable disease’ extensions tend to cover specific diseases that will be named in the cover. If Covid-19 is not specified, then cover may not apply. Some notifiable disease extensions are more general and do not specify certain diseases. In these cases, business interruption cover for Covid-19 may apply if Covid-19 is present in the business.
  • Businesses who are concerned about the impacts of Covid-19 should check the scope of their cover, and check with their insurance adviser or broker (Source: Association of British Insurers)
  • Matthew Dewen, director at hospitality insurance company Full-Time Cover, explains why the vast majority of restaurants can’t claim for business interruption during the ongoing Coronavirus crisis here.

Transport:

Public transport should only be used for essential travel.

Following the announcement by the Government to stop non-essential contact, TfL is making changes to ensure a safe and reliable service, so that London’s critical workers, such as doctors and nurses, can make essential journeys.

  • TfL is running a core service so that NHS staff and other critical workers can make essential journeys.
  • Some stations that do not interchange with other lines will close until further notice. Click here to see live status updates.
  • There is no Waterloo & City line, Circle line or Emirates Air Line until further notice.
  • On Friday and Saturday nights there is no Night Tube service or Night Overground service. Late services on both the Tube and Overground will continue to run for essential journeys.
  • London buses are running fewer services, but the night bus network continues to provide critical workers with a reliable night option on Friday and Saturday nights and throughout the week.
  • Congestion Charge, Ultra Low Emission Zone and Low Emission Zone have been suspended to support critical workers.
  • NHS staff to be given free access to Santander Cycles.
  • TfL have introduced an enhanced cleaning regime. Cleaning across the Tube and bus network now includes additional substances that kill viruses and bacteria on contact in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading (Source: TfL).

How to help your community: 

  • Marble Arch BID Community Programme: Many of our schools and charity partners are working tirelessly during this period to continue to deliver their services and support vulnerable members of the community. Whilst the government guidelines to self-isolate and work from home may limit what you can do, there are still plenty of ways we can support our local community. Find out more here.
  • Volunteering in Westminster: Westminster City Council have set up a system to connect volunteers to those who need help. Individual volunteers can register their interest here, organisations can register here. A new dedicated phone number has also gone live for Westminster Connects. This is for individuals who may need help or for people who know of anyone in need of help as a result of COVID-19. Westminster Connects phone number: 020 7641 1222, available from 8am to 10pm seven days a week
  • Urgent appeal – COVID-19 Relief Fund: Please help Imperial Health Charity support NHS staff at their hospitals – Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea, St Mary’s and the Western Eye – to prepare for and respond to coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here to donate.

Urgent appeal

Hospitality & Tourism:

  • Bars, pubs, and restaurants closed on 20 March, but are still able to sell takeaway food. Click here to see a list of local restaurants offering takeaway and delivery.
  • UK Hospitality has put together a number of steps on how businesses can deal with their employees during COVID 19, which you can find here.
  • UK Hospitality have been in discussions with the Treasury to urge the Chancellor to support both hourly-paid employees and salaried staff. We understand the Treasury is considering a range of options, including welfare payments through payroll and payroll reimbursements. Current support measures are listed below.
  • In the week commencing 9 March 2020, hotels in the Marble Arch BID as well as in the West End have seen occupancy drop dramatically, on average they are currently at 16%, forward bookings from all other long-haul regions to London are between -10% and -20% year-on-year.
  • Week commencing 9 March 2020, footfall was -3.56% compared to the previous week according to our footfall counters.
  • This fell even further week commencing 16 March. Footfall was -38% at Marble Arch, compared to the week before. Just north of Marble Arch on Edgware Road, footfall was -50%, and further up the road near the flyover, footfall was -51.5% last week.
  • World Travel & Tourism Council warned that international travel could fall by 25% this year, putting 50m jobs at risk (Source: WTTC)

Useful links and downloads:

Number of COVID-19 cases:

Number of UK cases, Department of Health and Social Care & Public Health England

Number of global cases, Center for Systems Science & Engineering at Johns Hopkins University

Support:

Coronavirus Business Support, HM Governement – Find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply

Business Rates – Expanded Retail Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response – Local Authority Guidance, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

Support for those affected by COVID-19, HM Treasury

Support for Businesses, HM Governement

Support if you cannot pay your tax bill on time, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

Support for Businesses and Employers, London Growth Hub

Emergency fund established for community and voluntary sector, Mayor of London

Scheme to support the UK’s self-employed, gov.uk

FAQ for employers, CIPD

Central hub with advice and guidance for employers, CIPD

Advice and guidelines:

Full guidance on staying at home and away from others, gov.uk

Overview and stay at home advice, NHS

Poster for employers and businesses, Public Health England

What you need to know, Public Health Matters

Coronavirus infromation for businesses, residents and how to help, Westminster City Council

Travel advice, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

What is self-isolation and why is it important?, Public Health Matters

Webinars on employment law topics and employment relations, Acas

Security:

A message to businesses in Westminster, from Head of Neighbourhood Policing for Central West Basic Command Unit, Superintendent Mark Lawrence

Crime prevention tips, Met Police Business Crime Hub

Six top tips for securing your shop, Safer Business Network

Coronavirus – Local Update and advice to businesses in Central London, Metropolitan Police

Hospitality:

Resources and support for the hospitality industry, Code

Why most businesses can’t claim for Coronavirus losses, Big Hospitality

How to deal with your employees during COVID-19, UK Hospitality

Advice for licensed premises in the night time economy,  Night Time Economy Solutions

Coronavirus: Essential employee factsheet, Big Hospitality