Covid-19: useful information for print businesses

Printweek Team
Friday, March 27, 2020

UPDATED 16.3.2021: Printweek is here to help in any way we can during the coronavirus crisis. We've put a host of useful links and info in one place, and we’ll keep updating this article with new information as it becomes available.

Here to help with useful information and advice in one place
Here to help with useful information and advice in one place

What started out as a small article back in March 2020 has grown and grown and grown... The easiest way to find relevant information is to use the 'find' function to search for keywords within this article, eg "furlough" or "workplace testing".



Covid-19: general advice for citizens
The latest government instructions on what we all need to do / not do.

Tiers and regional restrictions / lockdowns

16 March 2021 update: Scottish government published its timetable for easing restrictions, which can be downloaded here

22 February 2021 update: Prime Minister Boris Johnson publishes the government's plans for a four-step roadmap out of lockdown in England. Details, industry reaction, and links to relevant documents including the roadmap out of lockdown infographic can be found here.

4 January 2021 update: Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson announce new national lockdowns in Scotland and England coming into effect on 5 January. 

19 December update: Tier 4 'stay at home' restrictions added in some parts of the UK in response to a new virulent mutation of the virus. Details here

26 November update: A new system of tiers will come into force in England on 2 December. 
The full list of local restrictions by area can be found here.
Use the postcode checker to find out the status in your local area.

Posters explaining the different restrictions in Tier 1 (medium alert), Tier 2 (high alert), Tier 3 (very high alert) and Tier 4 (stay at home) can be downloaded here

NEW: Workplace testing

6 March update: workplace testing scheme extended and is now available to all businesses, including those with fewer than 50 employees.

On 7 February the Department of Health & Social Care confirmed that the National Workforce Testing scheme had been expanded to cover firms with more than 50 employees.

The online portal to register and order tests is here:



20 December update: Government advice on shielding and protecting people who are defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable.

A letter from the Department of Health & Social Care has also been sent to clinically vulnerable people in Tier 4 areas, advising them not to go to work if it is not possible for them to work from home. The letter is here


Business support schemes extended again

5 January 2021 update: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces a new £4.6bn package of grants including targeted reliefs for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses. A £594m fund is made available to local authorities for discretionary support to other businesses. Details here

Furlough and loan schemes extended again

17 December update: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces the JRS scheme is extended until the end of April 2021, while businesses will have until the end of March to access government-backed loan schemes such as CBILS. 

More information here.


Spending Review

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his Spending Review 2020 on 25 November.

He said: "Spending Review 2020 prioritises funding to support the government’s response to Covid-19, invest in the UK’s recovery and deliver on promises to the British people. It sets departmental budgets for 2021-22 and devolved administrations’ block grants for the same period, confirming that core day-to-day spending – that is, before taking into account Covid-19 spending – will grow at an average of 3.8 per cent a year in real terms from 2019-20 to 2021‑22. This is the fastest rate in 15 years."

Detailed information can be found here.


Winter Plan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his Winter Plan on 23 November. 
It can be downloaded here


5 November update:  Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a dramatic extension to the Job Retention Scheme, aka the furlough scheme, which will now run until the end of March 2021. 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now run until the end of March with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will also be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

As a result, the Jobs Retention Bonus (JRB) will not be paid in February and the government will "redeploy a retention incentive at the appropriate time". The purpose of the JRB was to encourage employers to keep people in work until the end of January. Because the CJRS has been extended to the end of March 2021, "the policy intent of the JRB falls away". 

The CJRS will be reviewed in January in terms of the employers' contributions. 

Full details can be found here

31 October update: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces that 'Lockdown 2' in England will come into affect on 5 November. Details about the new national restrictions here. They are intended to run until 2 December. 


22 October update: Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled enhancements to his Winter Economy Plan. The terms of the new Job Support Scheme (JSS), which goes live on 1 November, have been enhanced so that the employers’ contribution to unworked hours is 5% (was 33%), while the minimum hours have been cut to 20%, from 33%. 

The Job Support Scheme for businesses forced to close remains the same, and the Job Retention Bonus of £1,000 is unchanged.

New business grants of up to £2,100 a month are being made available for companies that have been impacted by the restrictions in high-alert areas. The grants are primarily focused on firms in hospitality, accommodation and leisure.

The upcoming grant for self-employed people has also been doubled from 20% to 40% of a quarter’s average trading profits, which means the maximum grant will increase from £1,875 to £3,750. The level of the second grant, from February to the end of April, has not yet been decided.

Full details can be found here.


12 October update: Government introductions new tiered system of local Covid alert levels. Guidance here


22 September update: following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's third address to the nation, where he outlined new restrictions that could be in place for up to six months, new government guidance on meeting with others safely has been issued. 


23 June update: guidance on businesses and venues that are allowed to reopen from Saturday 4 July.  


11 May update: Government publishes recovery strategy, and roadmap to lift restriction step-by-step.


Further update, 11 May: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) publishes new guidance Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new guidance covers different types of workplace and can be found here

Quarantine and travel corridors

Quarantine measures originally came into force on 8 June, with various exemptions.
3 July update: From 10 July people will not have to self-isolate if they arrive in England from one of the travel corridor countries, which includes France, Italy, Germany and Spain. 


Trade Credit Insurance Guarantee scheme

4 June update: The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme, which has been agreed following extensive discussions with the insurance sector, will see "the vast majority" of Trade Credit Insurance coverage maintained across the UK. The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and running until 31 December 2020, with the potential for extension if required. It will involve up to £10bn of government backing

Announced on 13 May: HM Treasury is planning a new Trade Credit Insurance guarantee scheme.

Details should be in place by the end of May. Printweek's story about the new scheme can be found here


Covid-19: support for businesses

Information about the total package of measures put in place to support businesses.

The government has added a step-by-step guide to the support available


HM Government Business Support

This new website helps businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.

Includes daily business bulletins detailing any new information.


Government webinars

Various government departments are hosting webinars to help businesses understand the support available.

For topics that cover supporting and retaining staff and the self-employed, register to attend future webinars or watch recorded sessions

For international trade register here

For small businesses register here

For changes to reporting, regulation and tax register here


Government measures, announced on 28 March

Regulations temporarily suspended to fast-track supplies of PPE to NHS staff and protect companies hit by Covid-19.

3 July update: the temporary scrapping of VAT on PPE has been extended until 31 October.

Insolvency: Government announces it will amend insolvency law to give companies breathing space and keep trading while they explore options for rescue


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), aka the ‘furlough’ scheme

This is the government web page that is being updated with details about the furlough scheme

12 June update: Government guidance published on the changes to the scheme that come into effect on 1 July

JRS and redundancies: a useful guide is available from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD), which is being updated regularly.  

29 May update: Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed details about how employer contributions will be implemented, while the part-time working option has been brought forward to 1 July, from August.

The scheme updates mean that the following will apply for the period people are furloughed:

  • June and July: The UK Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
  • August: UK Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • September: UK Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,190. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • October: UK Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.

The old scheme will be closed to new entrants on 30 June in order to facilitate the changes. Employers wanting to place new employees on the scheme will need to do so by 10 June.

12 May update: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the JRS will be extended to 31 October, and will include additional flexibility. From August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time "with employers being asked to pay a % towards the salaries of their furloughed staff". More information here

17 April update: confirmation that the HMRC portal will go live at 8am on 20 April.

The application service can handle up to 450,000 applications an hour. Employers should then receive the money to pay their employees within six days, enabling them to meet the April payroll.

We know that many printing companies are keen to engage with this scheme. 

You will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

Read the step-by-step guide for employers about what to do and how to make a claim

An update was made on 15 April regarding newly-employed staff that firms can now claim for Employers can now claim for furloughed employees that were on the PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020. [The previous deadline was 28 February.]

Employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to HMRC) and were made redundant or stopped working for the employer after that, and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if the employer re-employs them and puts them on furlough.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

Further update 17 April: Following on from the 16 April announcement that social distancing measures would be kept in place for at least another three weeks, chancellor Rishi Sunak said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would now be open until the end of June – providing businesses with the certainty they need.

12 May update: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces that the JRS will be extended until the end of October.

From August to October the scheme will continue, for all sectors and regions of the UK, but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work. Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time. 

The government is also going to ask employers to start sharing the costs of paying people’s salaries, with details to be announced by the end of May. 


NEW Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus

The Job Retention Bonus was announced in chancellor Rishi Sunak's summer statement on 8 July. It is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31 January 2021. The bonus will provide additional support to retain employees. To be eligible, employees will need to:

  • earn at least £520 per month on average for November, December and January
  • have been furloughed at any point and legitimately claimed for under the JRS
  • have been continuously employed by current employer up until at least 31 January 2021.

Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021. More information about this scheme will be available by 31 July with full guidance to be published in the autumn.


NEW Support for apprentices - incentive payments for employers

The government has stepped in with new backing for apprenticeships, including a fresh incentive of up to £2,000 per person for employers to take on new trainees. Read more here

The government information portal on apprenticeships and special measures around Covid-19 can be found here.  


Covid-19 Self-employment income support scheme (SEIS)

This is the HMRC scheme for people who are self-employed, or a member of a partnership, and have lost income due to coronavirus. Information on how to claim a grant here

29 May update: Rishi Sunak said that 2.3m people have applied for SEIS. He confirmed that it would be extended for a second and final grant, with applications opening in August. The value of the final grant will be 70%, up to a maximum of £6,570.

5 May update: HMRC is beginning to contact people who may be eligible for the scheme. 

Those who are eligible will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits), paid in a single instalment.

The claims service will open on 13 May and is being delivered ahead of the original timetable. The claims process will be "very simple", and those eligible should have the money paid into their bank account by 25 May, "or within six working days of completing a claim". 

HMRC's online checker went live on 4 May, which lets individuals check their eligibility for themselves, as well as giving them a date on which they can apply. 


Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme 

18 May update: If you are a business with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing two weeks of coronavirus related Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government.

Find out how you can prepare for the new rebate scheme and check if your firm is eligible


Tax changes for companies using contractors (IR35)

HMRC has announced that the changes to the off-payroll rules due to come into effect on 6 April 2020 have now been delayed until April 2021, because of the coronavirus pandemic "and to help businesses and individuals deal with the economic impact of Covid-19".

Note: This is a delay to the introduction of the changes and is not a cancellation.

Information on how to prepare can be found here


Covid-19: general guidance for employees, employers and businesses


Covid-19: Information for individuals and businesses in Wales


Covid-19: Information for businesses in Scotland


Covid-19: Information for businesses in Northern Ireland



Health & Safety Executive

Latest information and advice that relates to HSE matters

Joint statement from HSE, the TUC and CBI clarifying safe working for employees who cannot work from home. Firms that can safely stay open and support livelihoods should not be forced to close by misunderstandings about government guidance.

HSE guidance on social distancing at work

2 July update: New HSE guidance for employers on protecting vulnerable workers and supporting shielding workers who are returning to work

29 May update: the Department for Transport and HSE issued a joint letter regarding delivery drivers and access to washroom facilities. 

"Businesses which make or receive deliveries, should ensure that drivers have easy and safe access to toilets and hand washing facilities to support their health and wellbeing whilst carrying out their important work, which supports the economy. Preventing access is against the law."

You can read the full letter here

14 May update: New HSE guidance published following the government's Covid-secure workplace advice, to help employers keep workers safe during the outbreak. 

It covers the steps you should take to protect workers and others, in line with normal legal duties in managing risk and risk assessment at work.

The two new guides will help you manage the risk from coronavirus in your business during this time:

Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak - a short guide
This guide covers who should work, protecting those at higher risk, getting into and leaving work, organising work areas, and good hygiene.

Talking with your workers about working safely during the coronavirus outbreak
Guidance on consulting your workers and measures to prevent coronavirus in your workplace and to make it Covid-secure.


Companies House

Updated information on 16 April: Companies House will temporarily pause the strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved. This will give businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak the time they need to update their records and help them avoid being struck off the register.

Firms were already able to apply for a three month extension to file accounts. 

More information can be found here.  




HM Treasury

Factsheet how to access government support if you or your business has been affected by Covid-19

HM Treasury guidance page related to Covid-19


British Business Bank

The British Business Bank has put in place the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, or CBILS.

Update: From 20 April, this scheme is being extended to firms with turnover of £45m-£250m. Companies will be able to apply for short-term loans and financial support - up to £25m - if they have been impacted by the virus shutdown.

More information about the extension of CBILS announced on 16 April.

Firms with sales of more than £250m can now also access the support, but if they do so they cannot also access the Bank of England's special Covid Corporate Financing Facility. 

24 April update: a new 'sale and HP back' variant via CBILS which operates in addition to any support businesses may currently be applying for or receiving through their bank. Businesses can apply to refinance current hire purchase or lease agreements and unencumbered machinery to release working capital, providing an increase in funding, potentially lower repayments and 12 months interest free. It is available via Compass Business Finance (see below).

Printing industry specialist Compass Business Finance is one of the accredited lenders tasked with delivering the scheme. Story here 'Compass ready with new government backed finance'. 

Compass website  


Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

19 May update: HM Treasury has announced that its Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), designed to help bigger businesses, is being increased to a maximum loan size of £200m.

The scheme previously had two options: loans of up to £25m for firms with sales of between £45m-£250m; and loans of up to £50m for firms with sales of more than £250m.

The new loans will be available from 26 May. Firms can borrow up to 25% of turnover, up to the £200m ceiling.

It is being delivered through the British Business Bank, via accredited lenders.

However, the scheme also has comes with new caveats around dividends and executive pay. Read more here.


Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses

8 February 2021 update: New 'Pay as You Grow' flexible repayment includes the option to delay all repayments for a further six months, meaning businesses can choose to make no payments on their loans until 18 months after they originally took them out. The option to pause repayments will now be available to all from their first repayment, rather than after six repayments have been made.

Pay as You Grow will also enable borrowers to extend the length of their loans from six to ten years (reducing monthly repayments by almost half) and make interest-only payments for six months, in order to tailor their repayment schedule to suit their individual circumstances.

Further details can be found here

27 April: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the new Bounce Back Loan scheme targeted at small businesses, with fast-track loans from £2,000 to £50,000 available without any complicated pre-conditions.

The government will cover the interest bill for the first 12 months. Application will be via a simple online form, with the scheme set to launch on 4 May. This new loan scheme will run alongside CBILS.


Financial Conduct Authority

Fact page with information for businesses and consumers




Printweek matchmaking service

We’ve set up a page with details of print firms that have shuttered or spare capacity that could be used for the production of essential items, or items that are in unusually high demand because of the crisis.

You can find the list here.

We’ll update the list regularly as new information comes in.


BPIF advice for members

(Requires member log-in) 

BPIF information and advice for companies with apprentices / furloughed apprentices

BPIF Impact Survey results (first survey carried out from 23 March - 6 April)

BPIF Support Schemes Survey (second survey carried out from 22-30 April)

BPIF Covid-Secure roadmap. An eight-step guide to help print firms become Covid-secure amid a mass of government guidance.​ 



Information and advice for members

IPIA and BAPC joint industry impact survey. Results can be downloaded here


ICSM Credit

Advice about chasing down unpaid invoices. ICSM recommends using any downtime to go through your ledger and urgently draw up a list of overdue accounts.

ICSM has created a suite of free legal letters "which have an 87% success rate within 14 days".

Also offers debt collection services. 

Contact: Ian Carrotte


Royal Mail

Service status updates

Royal Mail 'Open for Business' incentive scheme went live in May and runs until the end of the year


Paper merchants

Merchants have adapted their operations in line with official advice on hygiene and social distancing. 

Antalis has set up a dedicated helpline on 01530 517298 or This is for any questions directly relating to Covid-19, or to provide feedback on how Antalis can further support customers.   

Denmaur Paper Media said that to date its supply chain remained robust with minimal impact from the virus, although some manufacturers are taking downtime. Stock levels remain strong.Please continue to e-mail or call your local office / contacts as you would in normal circumstances.

EBB said that it continues to have high levels of stock through its network of warehouses. None of its facilities, or supplier facilities, are currently in a quarantined area. For questions or further information, contact your usual EBB sales representative.

Premier Paper said that product availability remains good, however in order to meet the challenges caused by the virus crisis it will be necessary to make some changes to delivery schedules. All account managers and branch teams are contactable by telephone or email.

Warren Board, part of the Aims Group, said its Leicester and West Bromwich sites are operating normally (with social distancing measures in place) and additional stocks are in place. It is offering flexibility on orders for call off where possible. The merchant has ordered a 'significant number' of Korsnäs reels, available cut to size within five working days. The firm has also made a 1,115sqm warehouse unit in Leicester available to the NHS.


ECMA and Pro-Carton - transport of cartonboard

The European Commission has confirmed that the transportation of packaging, including paper-based cartons and cartonboard, will be able to use its fast-track ‘green lanes’ and has updated its Guidelines for Border Management to reflect the recommendation.

ECMA, the European Carton Makers Association and Pro Carton, the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers, have issued a document in 11 languages for hauliers to display when transporting printed cartons and cartonboard. A hi-res version is downloadable here.


The Printing Charity

Can offer practical and emotional support for industry colleagues in need.

Email or call 01293 542 820.

The Printing Charity has also responded to the coronavirus crisis by fast-tracking the rollout of its confidential telephone helpline service to SME print businesses, providing a free emotional and practical support service for employees.

The service is completely free to companies and their employees, all costs are covered by the Printing Charity. However, a company director has to sign the business up to the service for staff to be able to access it. Once signed up, employees' immediate family members in their household can also use the helpline.

More details and information on how to sign up, here


HR magazine

Also published by Printweek's publisher, our sister magazine has lots of useful advice on HR issues caused by the pandemic.


Public Health England

Dashboard showing reported cases of coronavirus in the UK, including new cases, cases by upper tier local authority in England and number of deaths.

Version for viewing on desktop computers or mobile version


Covid-19 symptom tracker

Non-profit initiate to help support scientists at King’s College London help our health services.

Take one minute to self-report daily, even if you are well. Help King's College scientists identify:

  • High-risk areas in the UK
  • Who is most at risk, by better understanding symptoms linked to underlying health conditions
  • How fast the virus is spreading in your area

App can be downloaded on the App Store or via Google Play. More info here

World Health Organization

Covid-19 global situation dashboard (updated daily)

WHO has also put together a suite of materials on the mental health and psychosocial support aspects of Covid-19. Includes a useful infographic on 'coping with stress during the outbreak'.

WHO general advice for the public, including masks, sanitisers, and a range of downloadable poster resources.

WHO free online training resources



For more information on useful free resources for work and play, visit the separate article here


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