Northern Ireland: Guidance and Support

Northern Ireland: Guidance and Support

See below for Northern Ireland's close contact guidance, and financial support options to help salons affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic...

Lockdown

Northern Ireland is currently in a full lockdown. All salons and close contact services must remain closed.

It has been revealed that Northern Ireland will lift its lockdown based on data and not hard dates.

Each sector to be opened in NI will be looked at in four-weekly reviews, with the first Comprehensive Formal Review being held on 16 March and subsequent dates are 15 April, 13 May, and 10 June.

The five-step plan begins with the current lockdown restrictions that are in place, with steps two to four allowing an easing of the rules, and the final step entitled preparing for the future.

Looking at the plan, it looks like close contact services will be able to open within step 3. We will keep an eye out for further information and any dates that may be given.

Financial Support

Below is information on the support that is available to salons in Northern Ireland that are closed due to the current lockdown.

Localised Restrictions Support Scheme

Under the scheme businesses will receive the following amounts for every week these restrictions apply:

  • Small businesses (up to £15,000 Net Annual Value) – £800
  • Medium businesses (£15,001 - £51,000 Net Annual Value) – £1,200
  • Large businesses (over £51,000 Net Annual Value) – £1,600

Full details on eligibility and how to apply be found here.

 

Job Retention Scheme (Furlough)

UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough scheme until the end of September 21. Employees on furlough will receive 80% of their pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. The deadline dates for claiming under the extended furlough scheme are:

  • 15 March 2021 – final date to submit claims for February 2021 by 11:59pm
  • 14 April 2021 – final date to submit claims for March 2021 by 11:59pm
  • 14 May 2021 – final date to submit claims for April 2021 by 11:59pm

Businesses will need to contribute 10% from July and 20% in August and September.

To see more on the furlough scheme and how to claim, click here.

 

Business Grants

One-off top up grants for retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property are available to help them through to this spring.

The grant is provided on a per-property basis to support businesses through this latest lockdown, and is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties, worth £4 billion in total across all nations of the UK.

The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

These grants will be available via your local council, so keep an eye on their website for more information and how to apply! Click here for more information on the grants.

 

Bounce Back Loans

The COVID-19 Bounce Back Loan Scheme enables businesses to obtain a six-year term loan at a government set interest rate of 2.5% a year.

  • up to £50,000 loan – loans will be from £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover or £50,000, whichever is lower
  • 100% guarantee – the scheme provides the lender with a government-backed, full guarantee (100%) against the outstanding facility balance, both capital and interest
  • interest rate – the UK Government has set the interest rate for this facility at 2.5% per annum, meaning businesses will all benefit from the same, low rate of interest
  • interest paid by the UK Government for 12 months – the UK government will make a Business Interruption Payment to the lenders to cover the first 12 months of interest payable, so businesses will benefit from no upfront costs

To see more on the UK government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme, click here.

 

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme provides lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments.

More details on the Business Interruption Loan Scheme can be found here.

Close Contact Services Guidance

Full details on the guidance that salons and freelancers must follow during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.

Quick guidance summary:

  • You must complete a risk assessment for your salon
  • Where possible, you must keep a social distance of 2m
  • Maintain handwashing/sanitization
  • A visor and a Type II face mask must be worn
  • Use a consistent team pairing/bubble system
  • Maintain a high level of hygiene throughout the salon

Further steps:

  • Encourage clients to use hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities as they enter the premises or before treatment.
  • Clients must wear masks.
  • When booking an appointment, asking the client if they can attend on their own, where possible.
  • Adjusting how people move through the premises to reduce congestion and contact between clients, for example, queue management or one-way flow. This may only be possible in larger salons.
  • Operating an appointment-only system.
  • Encouraging clients to arrive at the time of their scheduled appointment.
  • Seeking to avoid skin to skin contact with colleagues, and clients if not crucial for the treatment, and wearing gloves where possible.

COVID-19 related screening questions to be asked of clients ahead of their appointment, including:

  1. Have you had the recent onset of a new continuous cough?
  2. Do you have a high temperature?
  3. Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell?

If the client has any of these symptoms, however mild, they should stay at home and reschedule their appointment.