Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.55 14 Mar 2020


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A number of business owners have called on the Government to 'hit the pause button' in order to protect businesses while measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus are in place.

Many retailers and restaurant owners say they've seen a major decline in sales over the past few days following the fears of the COVID-19.

Footfall has been affected as more people across the country work from home, while many businesses have also had to implement 'social distancing' measures in light of official health advice.

Jean McCabe from Willow Boutique in Ennis was asked on Down To Business if she is thinking of closing her store for the next couple of weeks.

She responded: "I'd rather the directive come from the Government to do that - I wouldn't do it on my own.

"I think it should be blanket... it's like pressing the pause button.

"If we can pause everything right now across the board - [such as] VAT payments - it makes it a lot easier to pick it back up and start where we left off."

Jean said the shop hopes to stay open for now, but they will make a call in the next week or so about whether they'll need to close temporarily.

She said: "I would hope we wouldn't have to. We're lucky [as] we're online... there's always a little silver lining there."

Restaurants

Yesterday, the Revenue Commissioners announced rule changes for small and medium businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.

They won’t apply interest on late VAT returns for January and February for companies experiencing temporary cash flow problems.

All debt enforcement activity is being suspended, and current tax clearance status will remain in place for businesses for the time being.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland claimed the changes don't go far enough to protect businesses.

They're now calling measures such as a "moratorium on VAT payments" and for employer PRSI to be halved to support businesses.

The association also says there should be an immediate reduction of the VAT rate to 9% for tourism and hospitality businesses for a "minimum period of six months", and called on banks to defer loan repayments for the same period.

Hugo's restaurant in Dublin has had to temporarily lay off 22 of its 26 staff due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Gina Murphy, the owner of Hugo’s, told the The Hard Shoulder yesterday that she would like to see the Government "push the pause button on everything" to protect businesses during the ongoing crisis.

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Chris Ehrmann/AP/Press Association Images

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