Home COVID19: Business Information and Advice

COVID19: Business Information and Advice

Business Support

In this section, local businesses and self employed individuals can access all the latest information on financial assistance, support programmes as well as practical advice and guidance.

Financial Support

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021.

The government grant will cover 80% of wages. Employers will not be required to contribute or top-up for the hours not worked. You will still need to pay employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions; you cannot claim for these.

You can choose to top up your employees’ wages above the minimum 80% furlough pay amount but you do not have to.

Employees must not work or provide any services for the business during hours which they are recorded as being on furlough, even if they receive a top-up wage.

For further information on how to make a claim, how much you can claim for and what employees you can claim for please click here.

The grant is being extended from 1 November 2020. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant extension provides critical support to the self-employed in the form of two grants, each available for three month periods covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021.

The online service for the third grant will be available from 30 November 2020 to 29 January 2021.

Who can claim
To be eligible for the grant extension, self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, must:

  • have been previously eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme first and second grant (although they do not have to have claimed the previous grants)
  • declare that they intend to continue to trade and either:
    • are currently actively trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
    • were previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus

What the grant extension covers
The extension will last for six months, from November 2020 to April 2021. Grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering a three-month period.

The third grant will cover a three-month period from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021. The government will provide a taxable grant calculated at 80% of 3 months average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. This is an increase from the previously announced amount of 55%

The government has already announced that there will be a fourth grant covering February 2021 to April 2021. The government will set out further details, including the level, of the fourth grant in due course.

The grants are taxable income and also subject to National Insurance contributions.

How to claim

Applications for the third grant are open. If you’re eligible, you must make your claim for the third grant on or before 29 January 2021 to HMRC.

Fourth grant

There will be a fourth grant covering February 2021 to April 2021. HMRC will set out further details, including the level of the fourth grant in due course.

This Scheme is designed to provide support to the newly self-employed (sole traders and those in partnerships) who have been adversely impacted by Covid-19. It will provide an initial one-off taxable grant of £3,500 and is being administered by Invest Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for the Economy.

Under the previous criteria, over 50% of a newly self-employed individual’s income in 2019/20 must have been from self-employment. This has been amended to allow those who commenced self-employment later in the financial year to qualify for support.

The scheme will close to applications at 6pm on Friday 5 February 2021.

For more information on eligibility and to apply click here.

The Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme has been reopened to support those businesses impacted by the latest health protection regulations and will operate in two parts:

  • Part A will cover a business that is required to close or cease trading under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 but is not eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Scheme.
  • Part B will cover a business that has not been forced to close but is part of the direct supply chain to a business that is forced to close/cease trading under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020, and as a result it has been severely impacted.

Eligible businesses will receive a grant equivalent to £600 for each week the initial Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 are in place.

If you have already applied for Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme: Part A, you do not need to make another application. Additional support payments will automatically be issued to successful applicants for the period that the restrictions apply up to Friday 5 February 2021.

For more information on Part A click here or Part B click here.

The Localised Restrictions Support Scheme provides financial support to businesses, which have been required to close or have had business activities at their premises directly curtailed by health protection restrictions that have been put in place by the NI Executive.


Businesses must meet three eligibility criteria:

  1. The business must operate from a property within Northern Ireland
  2. The business must fall into at least one of the following categories:
  • It has been registered with, or is in the process of registering with their local council environmental health department as a business operating in one of the following categories: cafe, restaurant, hotel, guesthouse or pub.
  • It operates as a cinema, a museum, a trampoline park, an inflatable park, an escape room, a bowling alley, an ice rink or close contact services operating in commercial premises (such as hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons, day spas, nail bars and tattoo parlours).

3. The business must have been open to the public and trading at the start of the restriction period set by the Health Protection Restrictions (unless the applicant business is a wet pub which serves drink only).

To apply please go to: www.nibusinesscovidfinancialsupport.finance-ni.gov.uk

Urgent queries about your application can be sent to .

The £4.1 million Bed and Breakfast, Guest House and Guest Accommodation Scheme – which opens on Thursday 28 January 2021 – will support tourist accommodation businesses severely impacted by reduced income due to Covid-19.

The scheme will be administered by Tourism NI and will provide grants (capped at £12,500) to support eligible businesses on a flat per-room amount plus a percentage of 2019’s turnover.

To find out more about eligibility and how to apply click here.

The £26.1m scheme will provide support to large businesses in the Tourism and Hospitality sectors, which have been significantly impacted by the Health Protection Regulations put in place by the NI Executive. The scheme will provide additional financial support to help these businesses meet fixed costs and overheads associated with the survival of their businesses and the protection of jobs.

The Department for the Economy will contact eligible businesses to provide an application form. Once the application form has been fully completed and returned with the required supporting evidence, it will be assessed and a grant payment will issue in March.

To find out more about eligibility click here.

The Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme will provide support to wet pubs, whose premises were required to close or cease trading during the period from 4 July to 23 September 2020.

Application process

There is no requirement to make an application for this scheme.  The Department for the Economy has worked with Land & Property Services to identify potentially eligible businesses within the ‘wet pubs’ industry.

For further information on the scheme, click here.

The Limited Company Director’s Support Scheme will provide an initial one-off taxable grant of £1,000 to eligible company directors who meet the criteria outlined below.

While applications are invited from individuals who hold more than one directorship, only one application is allowed per person.

The company/companies in which you are an eligible director must:

  • Be currently trading but impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus, or previously trading but temporarily unable to due to coronavirus.
  • Be based and operating in Northern Ireland.
  • Have been trading at 1 March 2020 (i.e. prior to the Covid-19 pandemic).
  • Intend to continue trading

How do I apply?

You will be able to check your eligibility for the Limited Company Director’s Support Scheme through an online checker and apply online from 6pm on Thursday 21 January 2021.

For further information on the scheme, click here.

Individuals who work across the arts and wider creative economy are set to benefit from a further £3.25million of funding. Applicants experiencing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 will be able to apply for support of up to £5,000 or £7,500.

The Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme will open for applications on 17 December 2020 and it will be delivered by the Arts Council NI on behalf of the Department for Communities.

For more information, click here.

The Childcare Sustainability Fund (Phase 2 – Sep-Dec 2020) is now open for applications. The £8.5 million fund will provide a financial contribution to eligible registered childcare providers who are open and providing childcare.

Eligibility criteria

Childcare providers eligible to apply include:

  •  childminders
  • daycare settings
  • school-age childcare settings
  • community and voluntary crèches (specific conditions apply)
  • playgroups (with additional provision other than Pre-School Education Programme places).

The fund will close for all applicants at 5pm on Friday 5 February 2021.

If you have queries relating to submitting an application, you can contact the Early Years Childcare Support Fund team by emailing .

The Childcare Temporary Closure Support Fund will help childcare providers – including registered childminders, daycare providers, school age childcare, crèches and playgroups -who have been reactivated by the trust and have been operational during the period 1 September 2020 to 31 December 2020 and are still currently operational.

Applications must be submitted by 5pm on Friday 5 February 2021.

For more information click here.

The Job Retention Bonus is a £1,000 one-off taxable payment to you (the employer), for each eligible employee that you furloughed and kept continuously employed until 31 January 2021.

The Job Retention Bonus will no longer be paid in February, as the Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 31 March 2021. You do not have to pay this money to your employee.

You cannot claim the Job Retention Bonus until 15 February 2021. This guidance will be updated by the end of January 2021 with details on how to access the online claim service on gov.uk.

For further information on the latest financial support including government-guaranteed Covid-19 business loan schemes click here.

Practical Assistance

Business / ServiceGuidance
Close contact services
Keeping workers and clients safe in close contact servicesSafe working guidance for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers.

Click here to download.
Hairdressers and barbers reopening checklist This checklist is a quick guide to support hairdressers and barbers reopening during Covid-19.

Click here to download.
Beauty salon reopening checklist This checklist is a quick guide to support beauty salons reopening during Covid-19.

Click here to download.
Shops and branches
Working safely during Covid-19Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.

Click here to download.
Retail reopening checklist This retailer pack is a quick guide to support shops and branches reopening during Covid-19.

Click here to download.
Licensed premises
Licensed premises reopening checklist This checklist is a quick guide to support licensed premises reopening during Covid-19.

Click here to download.
Restaurants, pubs & barsSafe working: guidance for food preparation or service setting where food and drink is sold for consumption at venues or for takeaway or delivery.

Click here to download.
Food businesses
Food safety for businessesGuidance for food businesses on Covid-19.

Click here to download.
Food safety advice for the consumerGuidance for consumers on Covid-19 and food.

Click here to download.
Food safety advice for community cooking and food banks Click here to download.
Food delivery and takeawayGuidance on food safety for food delivery and takeaway.

Click here to download.
Food shopping A quick guide to safe shopping.

Click here to download.
Guidance for food businesses undertaking a rapid shut-down during Covid-19 Click here to download.
Keeping workers and customers safe during Covid-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway servicesCovid-19 secure guidance for employers, employees and the self-employed.

Click here to download.
Advice for food manufacturersGood practice advice for food manufacturers.

Click here to download.
Soft play areas
Soft play areas NI guidance for soft play areas.

Click here to download.
Health and safety resources
Covid-19 workplace example risk assessment HSENI example workplace risk assessment.

Click here to download.
Workplace safety guidelines and social distancingWorkplace guidelines and measures to prevent the transmission of coronavirus.

Click here to download.
Health and safety in the workplace Health and safety advice and guidance for places of work.

Click here to download.
Safety in the workplace Click here to download.
Legionella guidance Click here to download guidance on buildings reopening.
Covid-19 signage for businessesLimiting the number of customers entering the shop.

Maintaining 2m distance when queuing outside and in the shop.

Keep a distance of 2m at all times.
Covid-19: frequently asked health and safety questionsClick here to download.
Additional helpful links
Public Health Agency Public Health Agency.
NI Direct Covid-19 NI Direct Covid-19
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (No.2) (Northern Ireland) 2020Covid-19 Legislation
Posters to download, print and display from the Public Health AgencySocial distancing poster.

Hand washing poster

Catch it, bin it, kill it poster.

Isolation poster.

Updated Advice on Back Room/Staff Only Areas and Adherence to Self-Isolation Guidance

COVID Business Continuity: Workplace Safety
Essential Retail Businesses continue to be key in providing supplies to our local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is imperative such businesses continue to operate in a manner that is safe for customers and for employees working there.

Back Room/Staff Areas
Businesses must ensure that, in addition to introducing Covid controls for customers, they also maintain controls to protect their staff. With the current rapid increase in positive Covid-19 cases, assessment of a number of cluster outbreaks have suggested poor controls in back room or staff only areas. Please ensure that staff facilities are Covid secure including during tea and lunch times.

You can do this by:
• Staggering tea and lunch breaks
• Rearranging seating in the staff room to maintain social distance
• Regular cleaning of the staff area
• Providing adequate ventilation
• Providing hand sanitizer/ adequate hand washing facilities

Adherence to Self-Isolation Guidance
Any staff member showing symptoms of Covid-19 (namely a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss of or change in sense of smell or taste) or who has been advised to isolate must do so in line with public health advice. Further guidance on self-isolation can be found at the following link: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/covid-19-information-public

You can access further information here  www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-workplace-safety-guidelines-and-social-distancing

or contact the Council’s Environmental Health Department via email at

SupportFurther information
The temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors will be extended to the end of March 2021. This aims to give businesses in the sector – which has been severely impacted by the pandemic – the confidence to maintain staff as they adapt to a new trading environment.Click here for more information.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has resumed accepting small and medium project funding applications and launched an interest free loans pilot. Click here for more information.
Tourism Northern Ireland and Department for the Economy have issued guidance for safe working during Covid-19 for the visitor economy, hotels, accommodation, restaurants, pubs and restaurants.Click here for more information.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Tourism Forum will enable you to share ideas, useful information and find out more relevant information.Join now by emailing
Businesses operating within the visitor economy including accommodation, visitor attractions, restaurants and pubs, business conference and events venues and tour and coach operators are currently eligible to apply for the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard. Once successfully registered, businesses will then receive a certificate and the ‘We’re Good To Go’ mark for display in their premises and online.Click here for more information.
The Business Support & Innovation Centre is offering the Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Sector a range of funded programmes. Up to 60 hours of mentoring support available from industry experts through InnovateUs and Invest NI Innovation Voucher Programmes.Click here for more information.
Further support and adviceTourism NI
NI Tourism Alliance
Hospitality Ulster
Northern Ireland Hotels Federation
Federation of Small Businesses

What is a pavement café licence?

A pavement café licence authorises a person who operates a business supplying food or drink (in or from premises) to temporarily place furniture on a public area, for use by customers. This includes cafés, restaurants, pubs, retail outlets providing refreshments, takeaways and supermarkets with a deli counter.

What is the process for pavement café licence applications?

The Environmental Health Department issues licences for pavement cafés in the Borough. We have introduced a temporary process for licence applications to help businesses during COVID-19 pandemic recovery. Business operators must ensure they are familiar with government legislation and coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance. They must adhere to all requirements relevant to their workplace including carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment and apply ‘social distancing’ measures and mitigations.


What is the pavement café licence fee?

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), Council has waived application fees for temporary pavement café licences.  This will apply during the period of COVID-19 pandemic recovery until 31 December 2021.

How do I make an application for a pavement café?

Before submitting an application, please contact Council to check if your proposal will meet all the criteria.  Please email or telephone the Environmental Health Department on 0300 0300 900.

Download Pavement Cafe Licensing Guidance for Applicants (during COVID-19 pandemic recovery)

The Guidance Document for Applicants (during COVID-19 pandemic recovery) offers advice on what Council are required to consider appropriate for a pavement café licence including:

  • pedestrian and vehicular access
  • size and layout
  • likely disturbance to other businesses or residents
  • furniture design
  • safety issues

A licence application form is contained in the Guidance or to request an application form and guidance information, you can contact us by email: . We can also send you the application form and guidance by post.


What documents are required to support my licence application?

Site location map
Proposed cafe plan
Details of the proposed furniture
Public liability insurance
Liquor Licence (premises licensed under The Licensing (NI) Order 1996)
Management Control Plan (where appropriate)

What is the Public Notice?

The Guidance for Applicants contains a draft public notice. The notice must be affixed on the premises, so the public can see it for 28 days. Interested parties can make representations to Council about your licence application.

Council will publish licence applications on our web site until the end of the period allowed for representations.

What other organisations are consulted?

Council recommends that applicants discuss their proposals with adjacent property occupiers to inform them of the pavement café application.

When assessing your application Council will also consult:

  • DfI Roads
  • Police Service for Northern Ireland where the premises are licensed to sell alcohol
  • other council departments, organisations or individuals as appropriate


What are the timescales in the process?

The Council aims to provide you with a determination within 5 weeks from the date of receipt of a completed application.  Council will consult with DfI Roads and, in most cases, the Police Service of Northern Ireland when considering pavement café licensing applications. Council must also give other interested parties an opportunity to express their views before a final decision.

When a licence is granted Council will issue formal confirmation and a temporary pavement café licence will be granted until 31 December 2021.  The licence will have standard conditions and additional specific conditions may be added.

Employment and Skills

For up-to-date support on a wide range of employment and skills issues including redundancy, restructures and change please go to: www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/employment-and-skills

Redundancy fact sheet

With the unprecedented economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, we understand many local businesses will have to make some very difficult decisions as they try to move forward. This may include unavoidable redundancies over the coming period. A strong economy relies on a skilled, flexible, healthy and motivated workforce and we are committed to providing both employers and the local workforce with the necessary support and guidance to create a strong and resilient borough.

Redundancy fact sheets

Community Engagement
Health & Wellbeing