Article by Peter Borg

Coronavirus & The Nail Industry

On Monday night (4th Jan 2021), pretty much the whole of the UK was glued to their television sets as the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced a new national lockdown for England.

Since March 2020, the UK has been dealing with a pandemic no one could have ever predicted.  At the time, it actually felt like the lockdown in March was a bit of a dream. How could they close the country down? How can this pandemic do such a thing and of course what is going to happen to my life?

March turned into April, April into May, home schooling became a thing and Zoom became our way to communicate with the outside world. Then June came alone and rumours began to circulate about when our gorgeous industry would reopen.

Then on the 9th June it happened, Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, announced all non essential retailers in England could reopen from Monday 15th June! Excitement! Applause! Cheering!  But wait, close contact services had wait until the 4th July “at the earliest” and with many new practices to ensure they were Covid-secure.

So now we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, we knew we could reopen, salons began shouting from the rooftops that they would be reopening on the 4th and waiting lists began to populate – Euphoria began to hit the nail and beauty industry like never before and salon owners across the nation began to “PPE” their salons, prices of gloves and masks went through the roof and the new words on the street were Risk Assessments!  What was a risk assessment? What did we have to do? Most salons had never done one before?

Fortunately, Marian Newman and her band of merry men came to the rescue via her newly opened Facebook group, Madge’s Chat Show, a place to answer so many questions and to give an insight to what was happening. It became so popular that Marian was awarded the British Empire Medal for ‘services to the industry during COVID-19’. (And of course the reason we launched the FNP!)

So with risk assessments completed, masks, gloves and eye protection at the ready and waiting lists bursting at the seams, 3rd July arrived and the whole of the nail and beauty industry screamed. They had not read the sentence in full.   The 4th July “at the earliest”

We had to wait a little bit longer. There was uproar! There were petitions, we even had Members of Parliament standing up for us and then it happened. Our doors could reopen on the 14th July! Yes! We were back! Nail professionals up and down the country stood tall!

Social distancing and PPE still had to be adhered to and it became the norm for everyone. The numbers of new cases were slowly dropping, and positivity began to shine as bright as summer nails.

Christmas was coming and everyone was beginning to get ready for the biggest season of the year.  Then on the 31st October, Boris announced a second lockdown from the 4th November for all those in Tier 4. This was to be a shorter one-month lockdown as the NHS was weeks from being overwhelmed, and new cases were rising fast.

It was only a month, we could still have our crazy busy Christmas season, and we could still make it a great Christmas!  Sadly, the numbers of new cases were still rising and a new strain of Covid-19 emerged in the UK and on 19th December, Boris once again addressed the nation and announced that many areas throughout England would be entering Tier 4 and subsequently much of our industry would be closed.  This was also occurring throughout the other 3 UK nations in whole or in part.

For many their Christmas dreams were over. The busiest week of the year was upon us and some would miss it.  But it was for the best as the UK began to experience our biggest numbers of new cases ever. The new variant was out of control.

On Monday 4th January, on what was to be the first day back at work for many, Boris Johnson once again addressed the nation and announced another full national lockdown in England from midnight on Tuesday 5 January and this situation has been replicated in varying ways throughout the UK nations.  He called it a “pivotal moment,” he said “the Government is instructing everyone to stay at home” as hospitals had come under more pressure from Covid-19 than at any other time during the pandemic  Unlike the November lockdown, this time we have not been given an end date other than the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, saying he hoped the gradual lifting of restrictions could begin in March, but what does that mean for our industry?

UK businesses have traded for just over 4 months in this fiscal year, by March 2021 we would have been closed for a total of 8 months.  So far nearly 5,000 UK salons have closed their doors for good since the pandemic began and many more will follow.  These figures only relate to businesses registered for either PAYE or VAT with HMRC so the full impact may be higher.  With so much uncertainty and many unanswered questions, we are now in limbo.

But there is support.  The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended to cover 80% of the wages of those unable to work (up to the value of £2,500) while a business is closed, until April 2021. The Local Restrictions Support Grant, which was also available in lockdown in November, which gives you up to £3,000 per month, is also available. And now, Rishi Sunak has announced one-off lockdown grants of up to £9,000 for businesses, as well as a further £600 million in funding for local authorities.

Will it be enough? Only time will tell.

support-for-business-Federation-of-nail-professionals

 

Here are the links to help guide you to the right channels

One Off/Business Grants for closed businesses

Local Restrictions Support Grant (LSRG) for open businesses 

Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) 

SEISS Grants 

Self Employment & Universal Credit

Difficulties paying HMRC

Reclaiming SSP paid to employees

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and the Government’s theory is that while lockdown is in place, it can vaccinate around 2 million people per week.

As an industry we need to stay positive, while it is a challenging time for everyone, now is the time to find your reset button once again. What training can you implement? What can you do as a business leader to be ready for when we do finally reopen? How will you support your team?

Make sure you become a supporter of The Federation of Nail Professionals for updates and stay safe.

Peter Borg
Treasurer & Financial Director

Peter Borg

 

Below is extra information on what is available to small businesses from the Government

  • Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses (see below for values per property)
  • £594 million discretionary fund also made available to support other impacted businesses throughout the UK. Applications should be made to your local authority.
  • The funds are in addition to the LSRG (Local Restriction Support Grants that are currently available through local authorities
  • Furlough and the SEISS Grants have already been extended to April 2021
  • 100% busines rate relief for retail, hospitality and leisure continues
  • Government backed loans are now extended until March for application.

Further information

  • the one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:
  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000
  • any business which is legally required to close, and which cannot operate effectively remotely, is eligible for a grant
  • business support is a devolved policy and therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations, which will receive additional funding as a result of these announcements in the usual manner:
  • the Scottish Government will receive £375 million
  • the Welsh Government will receive £227 million
  • the Northern Ireland Executive will receive £127 million
  • this will contribute to the funding which has already been guaranteed by the UK Government, to continue to provide the devolved administrations the certainty they need to plan for their COVID-19 response in the months ahead
  • small businesses in the devolved administrations should also be able to benefit from other UK-wide measures in the government’s unprecedented package of support for business, including the various business lending schemes (where the repayment terms were made easier as part of the Winter Economy Plan), and the extension of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme