May 26 coronavirus update for businesses

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Shops to open from June 1

Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced that some shops can open again from June 1. These will include outdoor markets and showrooms, which are better able to keep keep customers safe. Then, other non-essential retailers will be able to open from June 15.

Retailers will need to follow rules including placing covers on items such as sofas and beds, frequent cleaning and quarantining returned items. Spot checks will be used to ensure companies are following the rules.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Clarity and guidance on plans for a phased reopening of the retail sector will be welcomed.

"Businesses will be taking a safe, proportionate and risk-based approach to returning to work, in close consultation with their staff. For many this will be an entirely new way of operating as they apply guidance to the practical realities of their business.

"HSE and local authorities should support businesses as they seek to comply with the new rules - and reserve new enforcement powers for the tiny minority of businesses who are wilfully disobeying or ignoring their obligations."

New fund launched for new-start companies

The government has launched new economic support packages for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Future Fund will make available loans of between £125,000 and £5m for businesses which are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.

Steve Fogg, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, is urging eligible businesses within Lancashire to apply, saying: ''The new Future Fund is looking to support innovative companies with good potential, and which will be essential in ensuring Lancashire retains its capabilities in innovation and technology. These companies typically rely on equity investment and are currently adversely affected by Covid-19.

''Until now these companies have been unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit. The Future Fund financing will support companies facing a significantly extended length of time between funding rounds, due to the impact of the current economic situation."

Developed by government and delivered by the British Business Bank, the Future Fund will help these companies through the current period of economic disruption and recovery, so they are able to continue their growth trajectory and reach their full economic potential. These companies will be a vital part of Lancashire's economic recovery as we emerge from this crisis.

Physiofusion ventures online

Burnley-based physiotherapy and wellbeing specialist Physiofusion has taken its services online for the first time, allowing it to keep as many staff as possible on full pay throughout the lockdown.

The company has traditionally operated a face-to-face service, but was pushed into the digital realm by the closure of its clinics. The company said: "We had toyed with idea of making some of our services available online prior to COVID19, however, we never had the confidence to make this a reality. This situation has given us the push that we needed."

The move included retraining all of its employees, redesigning its website and re-marketing its new suite of services to its target market: "We have acted as though we are a completely new business, starting from scratch."

Physiofusion added: "The support and feedback we have had has been overwhelming. Knowing we have been able to make a difference in the capacity that we have been doing is refreshing to hear. Not only that, we have been able to help businesses with their employee’s wellbeing equally so. Whether they are still in work or on furlough, we have been able to support their needs physically, mentally and nutritionally - and had quite a lot of fun along the way too!"