Covid-19: Cork small firms to tap supports from Government and the banks

Small businesses in Cork are facing huge difficulties as the Covid-19 crisis quickens, and are seeking to tap supports announced by the Government and the banks.

Covid-19: Cork small firms to tap supports from Government and the banks

Small businesses in Cork are facing huge difficulties as the Covid-19 crisis quickens, and are seeking to tap supports announced by the Government and the banks.

The hospitality sector has been hit hard across the country amid public health recommendations for social distancing of at least two metres.

This has made it impossible for certain businesses, such as beauticians and hairdressers, to continue operating.

The food sector has also been heavily affected, with many restaurants and cafés having to reduce in the number of customers allowed into the premises to adhere to the health rules.

Many other food and retail firms have shut their doors completely for the foreseeable future.

Rob Horgan of Cork’s Café Velo said restaurants and cafés face many bills and the industry faces into the unknown.

“We have rates to pay every month, you can either pay it monthly or in two lump sums. Vat is due every two months,” Mr Horgan said.

“Every business [receives their bills] at different times.

"We also get a newspaper delivered daily, so we have a bill for that. We have things like electricity, which are standing orders,” he said.

Mr Horgan said that business interruption insurance will not cover loss of earnings in this instance.

“You need an infectious disease clause in your insurance policy. The infectious disease also has to be named, which would not have been possible in this case as this is a new virus,” he said.

“So businesses will not be covered in this instance. My insurance guys have said they won’t be able to pay,” he said.

“A lot of smaller businesses don’t take out this type of insurance anyway as it is very costly.”

He said that a commercial mortgage freeze would still leave businesses facing an uncertain economy.

“We are hoping it will be like 9/11 when it bounced back quickly.

We are lucky the country’s economy is in a reasonable condition,” he said.

On the health advice rules, he said: “We are built on a sit-down model where people come for the atmosphere, we don’t have Deliveroo.

“The bigger businesses can stop everything and start again in a few months, but the smaller businesses can’t afford to close.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Harker, economics director at market researcher IHS Markit, which conducts a monthly spending survey for Visa, said that a promising upturn in Irish spending in February will likely have come to a quick halt.

“Moreover, events in February have now been overtaken by the wider spread of Covid-19 in Europe.

"The impacts of the measures put in place to try and prevent further spread of the disease will therefore likely see Irish consumer spending falling during March,” he said.

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