BLOG: Partner Sean Farnell’s outlook for lockdown two

In a blog last month I discussed the prospect of the country heading into another lockdown and how businesses would deal with it – but now that has become reality and we’re set for a month of further restrictions.

However, compared to the lockdown back in March there are a number of differences in the restrictions imposed and crucially businesses are approaching lockdown two in a different manner.

The rules are a lot less stringent than they were and there are more opportunities for companies to remain open and keep doing business.

We’ve also seen businesses benefit from their past experience and have been able to adapt much quicker, having only just emerged from lockdown and knowing what to expect.

There is definitely ‘Covid fatigue’ and ‘lockdown fatigue’ among businesses I speak to and the majority of businesses are allowing people to come into the office if they really need to.

It seems a much softer lockdown and not quite as authoritarian. We’re not seeing rash actions from business and more considered action.

Last week’s extension of the furlough scheme by the Chancellor was welcome news and will certainly support businesses through this stage of the crisis.

The Government will look at this again in January to see whether the extension will actually reach March, but we’re effectively back to the rules we had in August.

At the moment there is no update on tax deferrals and repayment timescales for Bounce Back Loans (BBL), however businesses who haven’t taken the full Bounce Back or Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) will be able to top-up to the full amount.

A good strategy could be to re-bank loans and could buy valuable time for businesses over the coming months. This is a strategy being recommended by some lenders I speak to.

For example – with a BBL that is due to be paid in April, if a firm re-banks that into a CBILS it won’t have payments until December next year.

As always, don’t take loans if you don’t need them, but an action like the above could be the difference between surviving through a difficult few months or folding.

Look at lockdown as an opportunity, particularly if you’re not working through as normal. Take it as a chance to plan, look at what the business does, the opportunities that will arise and how to take advantage of them.

Look hard at what the business does, the service you provide and whether that is still fit for purpose. It could be a case of pivoting and going down a separate route for the future of the business.

If you were setting up in business today knowing what you now know, what would you do that is different? Then take action off the back of that. Be entrepreneurial.

I’m a firm believer in planning and optimism, and even in these difficult times there is still cause to be optimistic and there will always be business opportunities after a crisis.

Stay safe and stay positive!

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