April 1 coronavirus update for businesses

Rail companies say 'stay at home'

Transport for the North, Network Rail and the British Transport Police are asking 'everyone in the north' to stay home, keeping the region’s railways free for essential travel only.

With social distancing an absolutely vital weapon in slowing the spread of the Coronavirus, all are determined that those who have to use the railways for essential purposes can do so with the minimum of risk – especially with many working in the region’s hospitals or other key areas of activity. For non-essential travellers, taking the train to a quiet place for a walk or some other form of exercise is no longer an option.

David Hoggarth, strategic rail director for Transport for the North, said: “Rail operators themselves are having to cope with high absence levels and have trimmed back services as they begin to introduce ‘key worker’ emergency timetables. Together they want to ensure the rail services that do operate are kept free for those who really need them.”

Transport for the North added: "The message is clear – no-one should be using the railways unless they are a key worker or have no other way of accessing essential services or supplies."

Digital Lancashire offers free membership

Digital Lancashire is offering a three-month membership to its services free of charge to help support businsses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The memberships are available to businesses in the digital and tech sectors as well as freelancers, students and start-ups. As part of your membership, you will be able to access a wide range of information including a jobs board to promote current job vacancies, or to even look for new job or project opportunities.

You’ll also be able to share interesting articles, sources of support or news, and events (which currently focus on virtual and webinar events for the interim) in order to help the industry during these unprecedented times.

Tom Stables, Digital Lancashire chairman, said: “We understand the difficulties that COVID-19 is presenting to us all at the moment but we want you to know that you are not alone. By offering this free membership option for the sector we are calling for everybody to come together, collaborate and to galvanise the digital industry across Lancashire.”

As the voice of digital business in Lancashire, the usually paid membership model of Digital Lancashire, which is there to encourage collaboration, share news and explore opportunities - is now free and we are calling for your involvement!

FPB requests rent holiday for pubs

The Forum of Private Business has joined the demand trending on social media for pubs forced to close as a result of the coronavirus crisis to be given rent holidays.

The Forum wrote to all the main pub companies requesting that they play their part in preserving the survival of the sector rather than demanding rental payments notwithstanding that the pubs have had no alternative but to close, and as a result simply have no cashflow to cover rentals.

Additionally the Forum has joined forces with accountancy group Fairmile Accountancy who operate the Facebook group ‘The Pub Owners Network Group’. Through this the Forum is working to share information to impacted pub tenants.

Ian Cass, the forum's chief executive, said: “We are facing the closure of hundreds of pubs up and down the country. The government has shown its support in several ways which will help enormously, but it is unforgivable then for the PubCo’s not to play their part too.

"There is a history of the PubCo’s using unfair tactics, in breach of the Pub Code, forcing tenants from their pubs so that they can then realise profits from developing the sites. The attitude of some of the PubCo’s is once again making this a likely outcome, with many communities suffering as a result. We strongly urge the government to put pressure on all the PubCo’s to do the responsible thing and bring in rental holidays across the board and I have written to Paul Scully, the Small Business Minister accordingly."

Lancaster Brewery launches home delivery service

Lancaster Brewery has launched a home delivery service, offering up its reserves of beer, spirits and wines that would usually be supplied to trade.

The company's popular Blonde, Amber, Red, Black and IPA are all available as a 9, 18 or 36 pint "Bag In Box" directly from the cask as well as bottles, while stocks last. The Brewery's Blush Cider and Budvar Czech premium lager are also available alongside fine wines and artisan spirits from a range of locally based producers and importers.

The service is available to the people of Lancaster and up to 25 miles around the surrounding region.

Chris Duffy, general manager of Lancaster Brewery, said: "As we sadly closed the doors to visitors we got to work in transforming our business into a home delivery service for thirsty Lancastrians, and we hope in our small way we can spread some real cheer during these challenging times.

"We have the equivalent of an Olympic sized swimming pool full of beer here at the brewery, and every drop must be drunk. The question is: are the people of Lancaster up to the task?"