Coronavirus: local businesses face uncertain future after nation-wide shutdown
PUBLISHED: 13:15 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:15 23 March 2020
Hackney venues, restaurants and pubs have closed since PM Boris Johnson ordered a nation-wide shutdown of entertainment establishments throughout the UK on Friday in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Manager Cesar Garibay was worried after being told to close his Dalston restaurant and bar Mezcal Cantina by his landlord.
He told the Gazette: “I’m getting really nervous.”
Cesar has applied for a government loan but is waiting for his application to be reviewed unsure if every small family business like his will get the support they need from compensation or loans or just ‘some lucky ones.’
His usually busy restaurant was almost empty before the lockdown and Mezcal Cantina only made enough to cover rent – less than a tenth of its usual earnings.
Cesar says peoples’ health is the most important thing and after 12 years in the restaurant business has asked a friend about cleaning jobs unsure of what will happen to his restaurant and staff.
Music venue owner Kwame Otiende, is looking at ways to move events on to a digital stage streaming live shows for those self-isolating.
Still, the owner of Jago in Dalston says: “It’s really bad.”
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According to a statement by the Chancellor on March 17 the government has promised a £330 billion loans package to help tackle the effects of the Coronavirus on the economy. It has also promised to pay 80 per cent of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer covering wages of up to £2,500 a month
The seven people who work at the Jago are now jobless.
Some casual workers who have tax and national insurance deducted at source are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay but self-employed freelancers paid without deductions are not entitled to benefits.
“Who knows how they’re going to survive,” Kwame said.
Meanwhile, venues like Paper Dress Vintage in Hackney Central are getting creative with ways for people to support them and their freelance staff asking the public to donate by booking themselves in for an online yoga class or buying tickets to their re-launch party.
Owner Steve Dix welcomes the suspension of business rates but is closely following news from the treasury and wants more details on how government-funded support for small businesses will work in practice.
The Mayor of Hackney said he’ll be in touch with businesses about how to apply for government loans once more information is released but encourages people with lost income to apply for Universal Credit as soon as possible.
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Businesses can sign up to the Hackney Business Network newsletter, which posts the latest updates on business relief. Business owners can submit feedback on how the pandemic is affecting them to help the council shape its response.
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