What can I do to protect my business from the impacts of Coronavirus?

Coronavirus advice and information for business

Coronavirus and its potential impact on business and the economy is a developing situation on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

Whilst it has not yet taken hold in a significant way the UK, incidences are on the increase and the Chamber and our membership are experiencing the cancellation of more and more business events whilst we are likely to see the closure of more offices and schools.

Worst-case predictions are suggesting up to 80% of the population could be infected and that 20% of the workforce could be off sick at any one time so the risk is very real and needs be taken very seriously.

We will be putting out a call to our members to see if any are in a position to offer products or services to help businesses through what is likely to be a challenging and uncertain period and will update this article and our social media accordingly. See "SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS" section below:

If you have what is usually called a “Business Continuity Plan” (also referred to as a “BCP”, “Business Emergency Plan”/”Contingency Plan”/”Disaster Plan”) that is a great starting point but do review this and make sure it is up to date taking on board the government advice and common sense information that is available around Coronavirus.

> If you don’t have a plan – work one up now! All businesses should have a Business Continuity Plan to try and cover a range of eventualities - not just Coronavirus (extreme weather, fire, flood and electrical / IT failures are some of the scenarios you should plan for).

We have included some of the specific advice the government is giving about Coronavirus later in this article but, as a business there are areas you can look at now to help prepare for the worst:

You will need to consider supply chains, employees, cashflow, travel and insurance

> Look at what your essential services are, prioritise these and look at how you can continue to deliver them as effectively as possible.

> Consider what a change in resource might mean for the business (it has been claimed that 1 in 5 of the workforce might be affected by Coronavirus). Staff may also have additional family commitments if a member of the household becomes ill or schools are shut).

> Look at what transferable skills there are within your team in light of other members being off sick for two weeks or more.

> Who could you retrain now to fill any of the essential skills needed to run your business?

> Are there any non-time-critical projects that you may want to consider delaying or rescheduling?

> Consider flexible working options such as working remotely. If your staff can work from home this might limit any infection in your workplace and help protect your staff against infection in the first place.  Or, if they are infected, but consider they have recovered sufficiently to carry out their job (the virus will affect individuals in different ways with some people having mild symptoms) make sure they have the tools to do this while they are still infectious (currently 2 week isolation is being advised but this might increase as we learn more)

Remember any secondary considerations including equipment, software, training and security (espectially the integrity of your corporate data and communications on 3rd party devices and networks) and make sure your staff have the resources and skills to continue to work effectively. Our IT and Comms members may be able to assist with this. See 

> Make sure you communicate with your customers and suppliers to keep them up to date with your plans and any changes to working practices or work you are doing for them.

> Ways of self-certifying and the possibility of video diagnosis are currently being looked at as visits to GPs and health centres is being discouraged to avoid spreading infection.

> Can you cut down on the face-face meetings and conduct phone meetings or conference calls instead? There are a range of technical solutions to help businesses conduct “virtual” meetings and that facilitate shared working resources. We are lucky enough within our Chamber Membership to have a IT businesses and consultants who specialise in this area and can provide either part or full service solutions.

> Business insurance – what happens if your business closes due to an outbreak of COVID-19?

Is your insurance cover fit for purpose if your business closes due to an outbreak of the virus.

You should check the wording and small print in your policy - policies vary and may have different Business Interruption Insurance for any income lost as the result of a disaster. If this includes “notifiable diseases” and then check with your insurance cover or broker to see if COVID-19 is included - The Scottish Government has declared coronavirus as a notifiable disease in Scotland whilst, at the time of writing, the UK government had not.

If you are not covered you can ask your insurance company or broker to add this specific cover to your policy and, if they can, it may well be subject to an additional premium. Again, we have some fantastic local insurance brokers within our membership who are well placed to offer one-to-one consultation to assess your needs as well as bespoke policies and advice. We will put out a call to any that wish to be mentioned specifically so keep an eye on this article and our social media channels.

> Cash-flow – what happens if you hit temporary cash-flow issues as a result of any disruption?

As part of any planning you should be assessing your financial situation, possible scenarios and solutions. Ensure your finance team or accountant is involved in any audit/risk assessment and helps identify solutions. We have a number of financial experts and businesses within our membership that can provide advice and access to loans if needed and you could also speak to your bank about extended overdraft facilities or loan options.

> Can you change your plans to avoid all non-essential travel? – particularly to areas or countries with higher rates of infection.

Government advice is that employees returning from high risk areas (category 1 or 2*) should self-isolate for 14 days after their return (see also best practice and statutory sick pay advice). *https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-specified-countries-and-areas/covid-19-specified-countries-and-areas-with-implications-for-returning-travellers-or-visitors-arriving-in-the-uk

> Are there events or other commitments where there will be large numbers of people that you might want to consider postponing? (as things develop some of these decisions will likely be made for us – we mentioned earlier that members are already reporting that events are being cancelled)

> Effective communication with your staff is important both about any changes and contingency planning as well as about changes in behaviour to minimise any spread of infection and their own responsibilities and rights.

The Government has just announced that workers will receive statutory sick pay from their first day off work, not the fourth, to limit the spread of Coronavirus.


Chamber Business Hub, Whitecrook Business Centre, Clydebank: With a flexible space located centrally with ample parking the Chamber Business hub has fast broadband, a large screen and telephone conferencing capabilities available for hire at preferential rates. Seating from 8/10 board room style up to about 30 theatre style. Catering options also available. Call to discuss your requirements and costs +44 (0)141 280 0272 or email: [email protected] 

Turkey Red Media: Offer to members 20% off

Has your event or meeting been cancelled due to Coronavirus ? . then let us video stream your event or meeting to your clients or colleagues. Video streaming is a great alternative to face to face meetings,

You can use our studio with fast 1Gb network connection and green screen, or we can set it up at your own premises, oh..and it does not cost as much as you may think, get in touch for a quote or have a read of our free FAQ file, including pricing: https://www.turkeyredmedia.com/f…/TRM_Streaming_Services.pdf

Columbus UK www.columbusuk.com 

Columbus UK help businesses in Dunbartonshire and beyond create modern workplaces through a wide range of work-anywhere, managed communications and technology solutions. With respect to the current Coronavirus situation, Columbus can help Chamber members assess their readiness to implement remote working within their organisations, should they require it. Columbus can also offer practical guidance to update and implement a Disaster Recovery Plan and provide the technology services to ensure that employees can operate effectively anywhere. Their remote worker solutions encompass Hosted Telephony and Unified Communications services for effective team working and collaboration across multiple locations as well as seamless remote desktop services for access to applications and data anywhere and on any device. The solutions are suitable for sole traders, micro businesses, SME’s and midsize businesses. If you would like to make an enquiry contact Jason George on 0333 240 7755 or email [email protected]  

WeAchieve Associates

Mary Ann is a business coach and consultant who can run a valuable business continuity session to help identify key areas of focus and action planning to prepare and manage disruption. Mary Ann can also provide advice in the use of different online systems to help you conduct online meetings, conference calls and management of teams and projects in the cloud.  

MacLaren IT

We are able to provide you with secure, easy to use remote access systems that allow your staff to remain productive in the event they are unable to be at their usual place of work. For more information, contact us at [email protected] or on 07709 192168


 If any companies are planning on offering this to staff, they should speak to an IT professional to ensure not only that users have access to business systems and applications, but also have the most up to date security features in place. If anyone wishes to purely have a chat over this, I’m more than happy to speak around what I’m doing for my clients in this position. David Rankine. 03333003250 [email protected] www.workflo-solutions.co.uk 


Remember if you are a FULL MEMBER of the Chamber your membership includes access to HR, Legal and Health and Safety Helplines and online document library with hundreds of documents to help you run your buesiness. To find out more about this go to 



> Ensure you communicate any advice and measures both digitally via email, intranet, social media and with key notices around the workplace (especially in shared spaces and particularly toilets and food preparation / consumption areas).

A key priority to minimise the spread is hand-washing so ensure there is adequate provision of washing and hygiene facilities including antibacterial hand gel if you are able to source some (supplies are low due to increased demand).

Ensure surfaces and equipment are regularly sanitised.

Fuller information from the UK Government is available below.




A new helpline has been launched to supply Scottish businesses with tailored advice on coronavirus.

It will be open Monday to Friday from 08:30 to 17:30, based at Scottish Enterprise's call centre in Clydebank.

Call handlers will answer questions from businesses related to Covid-19 as well as relaying the challenges faced by businesses to the Scottish government.

It comes as the UK enters the second phase of virus management.

The helpline number is 0300 303 0660.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled a £30bn package in an attempt to protect the UK economy in the face of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

The government's response to the impact of COVID-19 will include a business rates holiday for some firms and the refunding of sick pay by the government for small businesses.

Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes has announced a £2.2 billion rescue package for Scottish businesses to support them through the Covid-19 outbreak. Read more HERE 



Coronavirus: supporting your people through a global public health emergency (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development): https://www.cipd.co.uk/news-views/news-articles/coronavirus-supporting-people-global-public-health-emergency

COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses (also available below)




  1. Background and scope of guidance

This guidance will assist employers and businesses in providing advice to staff on:

  • the novel coronavirus, COVID-19
  • how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19
  • what to do if someone with suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a workplace setting
  • what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas, as outlined by the Chief Medical Officer (full list is available here)
  • advice for the certification of absence from work resulting from Covid-19
  1. Information about the virus

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020.

The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 to 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, they have not been infected.

  1. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:

  • cough
  • difficulty in breathing
  • fever

Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

  1. How COVID-19 is spread

From what we know about other coronaviruses, spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres or less) with an infected person. It is likely that the risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person.

Respiratory secretions produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes containing the virus are most likely to be the main means of transmission.

There are 2 main routes by which people can spread COVID-19:

  • infection can be spread to people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs.
  • it is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching door knob or shaking hands then touching own face)

There is currently little evidence that people who are without symptoms are infectious to others.

  1. Preventing spread of infection

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Public Health England (PHE) recommends that the following general cold and flu precautions are taken to help prevent people from catching and spreading COVID-19:

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. See hand washing guidance
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

If you are worried about symptoms, please call NHS 111. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment.

Further information is available on the PHE blog and NHS.UK.

Face masks for the general public are not recommended to protect from infection, as there is no evidence of benefit from their use outside healthcare environments.

People who have returned from Hubei Province, including Wuhan, in the last 14 days should self-isolate whether they have symptoms or not. This includes avoiding attending an education setting or work until 14 days after they leave Hubei Province.

People who have returned from Hubei Province, including Wuhan, in the last 14 days should avoid attending work. They should call NHS 111 for advice and self-isolate

Advice is in place for what to do if you have returned in the last 14 days from specified countries or areas which is being updated on an ongoing basis.

With regards to travel information to China or other countries for individuals working in the UK, we recommend following the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) country advice pages.

At present, FCO advises against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing novel COVID-19 outbreak. The FCO also advises against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao).

  1. How long the virus can survive

How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors, for example:

  • what surface the virus is on
  • whether it is exposed to sunlight
  • differences in temperature and humidity
  • exposure to cleaning products

Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 72 hours.

We know that similar viruses are transferred to and by people’s hands. Therefore, regular hand hygiene and cleaning of frequently touched surfaces will help to reduce the risk of infection.

See hand washing guidance.

  1. Guidance on facemasks

Employees are not recommended to wear facemasks (also known as surgical masks or respirators) to protect against the virus. Facemasks are only recommended to be worn by symptomatic individuals (advised by a healthcare worker) to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to other people.

PHE recommends that the best way to reduce any risk of infection is good hygiene and avoiding direct or close contact (closer than 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.

Any member of staff who deals with members of the public from behind a full screen will be protected from airborne particles.

  1. What to do if an employee or a member of the public becomes unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19

If the person has not been to specified areas in the last 14 days, then normal practice should continue.

If someone becomes unwell in the workplace and has travelled to China or other affected countries, the unwell person should be removed to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people. If possible find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door, such as a staff office. If it is possible to open a window, do so for ventilation.

The individual who is unwell should call NHS 111 from their mobile, or 999 if an emergency (if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk) and explain which country they have returned from in the last 14 days and outline their current symptoms.

Whilst they wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, they should remain at least 2 metres from other people. They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in a bag or pocket then throw the tissue in the bin. If they don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available.

  1. Returning from travel overseas to affected areas

People who have returned from Hubei Province, including Wuhan, in the last 14 days should avoid attending work. They should call NHS 111 for advice and self-isolate

Advice is in place for what to do if you have returned in the last 14 days from specified countries or areas which is being updated on an ongoing basis.

All other staff should continue to attend work.

  1. What to do if a member of staff or the public with suspected COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace

For contacts of a suspected case in the workplace, no restrictions or special control measures are required while laboratory test results for COVID19 are awaited. In particular, there is no need to close the workplace or send other staff home at this point. Most possible cases turn out to be negative. Therefore, until the outcome of test results is known there is no action that the workplace needs to take.

  1. What to do if a member of staff or the public with confirmed COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace

Closure of the workplace is not recommended.

The management team of the office or workplace will be contacted by the PHE local Health Protection Team to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken.

A risk assessment of each setting will be undertaken by the Health Protection Team with the lead responsible person. Advice on the management of staff and members of the public will be based on this assessment.

The Health Protection Team will also be in contact with the case directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts and will be in touch with any contacts of the case to provide them with appropriate advice.

Advice on cleaning of communal areas such as offices or toilets will be given by the Health Protection Team. and is outlined later in this document.

  1. When individuals in the workplace have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19

If a confirmed case is identified in your workplace, the local Health Protection Team will provide the relevant staff with advice. These staff include:

  • any employee in close face-to-face or touching contact
  • talking with or being coughed on for any length of time while the employee was symptomatic
  • anyone who has cleaned up any bodily fluids
  • close friendship groups or workgroups
  • any employee living in the same household as a confirmed case

Contacts are not considered cases and if they are well they are very unlikely to have spread the infection to others:

  • those who have had close contact will be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the home isolation advice sheet
  • they will be actively followed up by the Health Protection Team
  • if they develop new symptoms or their existing symptoms worsen within their 14-day observation period they should call NHS 111 for reassessment
  • if they become unwell with cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be tested for COVID-19
  • if they are unwell at any time within their 14-day observation period and they test positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated for the infection

Staff who have not had close contact with the original confirmed case do not need to take any precautions and can continue to attend work.

  1. Certifying absence from work

By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, it is for the employer to determine what evidence they require, if any, from the employee. This does not need to be fit note (Med 3 form) issued by a GP or other doctor.

Your employee will be advised to isolate themselves and not to work in contact with other people by NHS 111 or PHE if they are a carrier of, or have been in contact with, an infectious or contagious disease, such as COVID-19.

We strongly suggest that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to self-isolate due to suspected COVID-19, in accordance with the public health advice being issued by the government.

  1. Advice for staff returning from travel anywhere else in the world within the last 14 days

Currently, there are minimal cases outside the listed areas and therefore the likelihood of an individual coming into contact with a confirmed case is extremely low.

These staff can continue to attend work unless they have been informed that they have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19

If individuals are aware that they have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 they should contact NHS 111 for further advice.

The latest country information is available on the NaTHNac Travel Pro website.

  1. Handling post, packages or food from affected areas

Employees should continue to follow existing risk assessments and safe systems of work. There is no perceived increase in risk for handling post or freight from specified areas.

  1. Cleaning offices and public spaces where there are suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19

Coronavirus symptoms are similar to a flu-like illness and include cough, fever, or shortness of breath. Once symptomatic, all surfaces that the person has come into contact with must be cleaned including:

  • all surfaces and objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
  • all potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as toilets, door handles, telephones

Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids do not need to be specially cleaned and disinfected.

If a person becomes ill in a shared space, these should be cleaned using disposable cloths and household detergents, according to current recommended workplace legislation and practice.

  1. Rubbish disposal, including tissues

All waste that has been in contact with the individual, including used tissues, and masks if used, should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. It should be put in a safe place and marked for storage until the result is available. If the individual tests negative, this can be put in the normal waste.

Should the individual test positive, you will be instructed what to do with the waste.



The information in this website is for general guidance on your rights and responsibilities and is not medical  legal advice. If you need more details on your position or medical  or legal advice about what action to take, please contact an adviser, doctor or solicitor.


Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce has tried to ensure that the information on this website is accurate. However, we will not accept liability for any loss, damage or inconvenience arising as a consequence of any use of or the inability to use any information on this website. Dunbartonshire Chamber endeavours to provide a service of the highest quality; however, we cannot guarantee that our service will be uninterrupted or error-free. We are not responsible for claims brought by third parties arising from your use of this website.


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