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Opchat Magazine Industry NewsIndustry News, April to June 2020

4D pharma: phase II study of MRx-4DP0004 in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 open for enrolment
Jobs saved as family retail firm is sold after 100 years of serving the West.
BGF focuses on Bayfields Opticians with new investment
New Essilor Commercial Director
LOOK – made in Italia, look not for " price but values"
Operational and fully mobilized Oko by Oko supports its partner opticians.
Blackfin CEO talks about Re-Starting
Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will launch online on 26 May.
AbbVie Completes Acquisition of Allergan
IPRO for audiologists boosts practice efficiency
Todays (7th May) BOE Statement
PPE eyewear needs to be anti-fogging
Heidelberg's offer of Free breath Shields to their OCT customers has created a large demand
Shamir Support to the NHS and Keyworkers
Speedy SOS turnaround from Norville
Live Webinars available as tutorials for understanding CJRS payments, but limited so hurry.
Grafton Optical updates customers on how they are responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
Further Business Advice and thoughts on actions required during this Covid 19 Phase and planning for the Restart
List of Companies providing products and services to Optical Practices continues to grow
Heidelberg Engineering supply free OCT protective breath shields
Protective Eyewear available the next day!
MEI srl donates 500 thousand euros for the Coronavirus emergency
Norville to provide emergency replacement specs
Lens Companies still providing services during pandemic.
Cantor & Nissel remain open to assist Practices in emergency work.
WinIPRO PMSbuilds on its reliability reputation.
The International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy (ISCT), warning on fake stem cell covid tech
New Statement from the Chancellor late last night
Newly Appointed Professional Services Consultant for UltraVision
Covid brings back difficult times to our businesses, things to do and check ahead of the slow down
Covid-19 knock on affects on business and what to do form
Read the archived Industry News from January to March 2019

Covid List

During the Pandemic you will be able to find a list of all suppliers and their contact details who at the time of publishing are available to provide goods, services or verbal help to practices requiring help during emergency provision or future planning needs. Look for the banner link from any page



4D pharma: phase II study of MRx-4DP0004 in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 open for enrolment

July 2020

Dosing of first patients expected to commence shortly

4D pharma plc (AIM: DDDD), a pharmaceutical company leading the development of Live Biotherapeutics, today announces that its Phase II clinical trial of oral immunomodulator MRx-4DP0004 for patients hospitalised with COVID-19 is now open to enrolment, and dosing of the first patients is expected shortly.

The Phase II randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial is enrolling up to 90 patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in the UK. Eligible patients will receive daily oral MRx-4DP0004 or placebo, in addition to standard supportive care. The primary endpoint of the trial is the mean change in clinical status score as measured by the WHO Ordinal Scale for Clinical Improvement. In addition, a number of secondary endpoints assess measures of clinical efficacy including the need for, and duration of, ventilation, in addition to safety and tolerability.

4D pharma’s Live Biotherapeutic MRx-4DP0004 has shown the potential to simultaneously down-regulate specific pathological aspects of the hyper-inflammatory response to viral infection, while maintaining the appropriate anti-viral response. Both are key factors in the effective treatment of the respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19, not only for hospitalised patients with more severe disease but potentially also in patients with milder symptoms to prevent disease progression and hospitalisation.

As a Live Biotherapeutic, MRx-4DP0004 is expected to display a favourable safety profile. In an ongoing asthma study MRx-4DP0004 has demonstrated an excellent safety profile to date. Particularly in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, the safety of this Live Biotherapeutic is critical, in contrast to the known side-effect profiles of other therapies in clinical trials for COVID-19.

“Reducing hyperinflammation, particularly in the lungs, is key to preventing the exacerbation of symptoms associated with more severe COVID-19. 4D pharma has shown MRx-4DP0004 has the ability to target inflammation in the lungs, potentially reducing the respiratory issues central to COVID-19,” said Dr. Alex Stevenson, Chief Scientific Officer, 4D pharma. “4D pharma aims to use this study to generate robust, meaningful clinical data that will support a safe immunomodulatory Live Biotherapeutic intervention for patients hospitalised with COVID-19.”

He added, “Immunomodulatory intervention in COVID-19 is supported by recent positive results from the UK’s RECOVERY trial, showing dexamethasone reduces the risk of death in hospitalised patients. We believe MRx-4DP0004 has a mechanism of action that may be complementary to that of dexamethasone, which has now become standard-of-care across the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Importantly, in our ongoing asthma study the addition of MRx-4DP0004 to glucocorticoid treatments (the same class of medicines as dexamethasone) has to date been safe and well tolerated, positioning MRx-4DP0004 to be able to progress rapidly in this new standard-of-care setting. 4D pharma intends to develop MRx-4DP0004 to prevent hospitalised COVID-19 patients deteriorating to the point of needing invasive ventilation and intensive care, and thus alleviate the greatest burdens facing healthcare services. Following positive data from the COVID-19 clinical trial, 4D pharma intends to explore the potential utility of MRx-4DP0004 in additional viral infections like influenza.”

About MRx-4DP0004

MRx-4DP0004 is a single-strain Live Biotherapeutic in development for the treatment of asthma and COVID-19. It has demonstrated strong and significant efficacy in industry standard preclinical models of steroid-resistant severe asthma. MRx-4DP0004 was shown to reduce both neutrophils and eosinophils in prophylactic and therapeutic settings in vivo. The efficacy was also reflected in a reduction in histopathological lung inflammation, and specific subsets of T cells, dendritic cells and inflammatory cytokines.

4D is currently investigating MRx-4DP0004 in a Phase I/II study in patients with partly-controlled asthma. The study, taking place at sites across the UK, is evaluating the safety and preliminary clinical efficacy of MRx-4DP0004 in addition to standard maintenance therapy such as inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and long acting beta agonists (LABA), in up to 90 patients.

For more information about the clinical study please visit

Jobs saved as family retail firm is sold after 100 years of serving the West.

July 2020

Norville Original Practice The 'majority of jobs' at Norville Opticians, the retail division of The Norville Group, have been safeguarded after the group of practices was saved from administration.

Norville Opticians, which was founded in 1898 and has practices in Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bishops Cleeve, Dursley, Wotton-under-Edge and Stonehouse, has been run most recently by chairman Frank Norville.

Pre-takeover it had an estimated 50 staff.

According to its new owners, Hakim Group, the impact of Covid-19 meant that “the business needed significant investment which has been provided through the sale, and almost all jobs have been secured”.

The Norville Group, the manufacturing laboratory is a separate business and is not included in the sale.

This is still being operated by the Norville Group, which is headquartered at Service House, Magdala Rd.

All the optical practices will retain the Norville Opticians name above the door and continue to serve their local communities.

Adrian Street, director at Norville Opticians, said: “With so many jobs at risk in the current climate, our number-one priority throughout this period has been to make sure the livelihoods of our people were safeguarded.

“We are delighted that our patients can continue to receive the same level of care that our teams are proud to deliver every day.

“All of us at Norville Opticians are excited for the journey ahead in the next chapter of our history which is already over a century old.”

Luke Wren, head of business development at the Hakim Group, said: “We are very happy to welcome Norville Opticians into the HG family of independent practices.

“Frank Norville, Adrian and their teams have built up a dedicated patient base through a commitment to delivering a first-class service putting the customer at the heart of their proposition.
“With jobs secured, the practice teams can continue to do what they do best - providing their communities with the eyecare they need, when they need it.”

Hakim Group has confirmed a full investment and transformation programme has been planned, which includes shared ownership opportunities for some of the existing employees.

BGF focuses on Bayfields Opticians with new investment

June 2020

BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active investor in growing businesses, has invested in Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists.

BGF’s investment will be used to support the independent opticians and audiologists group’s organic growth – including further roll-out of its audiology services – as well as its acquisition strategy to double the number of sites over the next four years.

Royston BayfieldRoyston Bayfield, founder and CEO of Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists, commented: “In the last 15 years, the Bayfields group has grown exceptionally well, whilst keeping front of mind our values, our local relationships with clients and our high-quality expertise through our expanding team of optometry and audiology specialists.

“The deal completed in March before lockdown, but our values are more important than ever in the current climate. We have been working extremely hard to create cutting-edge and unique client consultation processes to guarantee that healthcare appointments are COVID-19 secure, bringing together absolute safety without compromising service. As such, we have introduced BaySafe, our propriety brand, that signifies clinical excellence. This offers clients the confidence to manage and deal with eye strain, head pain, or less than perfect hearing in a safe and caring environment.”

He added: “We are delighted to be welcoming BGF to the Bayfields family as our long-term investment partner. The team has great sector expertise and a real understanding of our vision for the business, which will be invaluable as we enter this next stage of growth.”

Bayfields’ team of highly-trained optometrists offer eye exams and a wide range of high-quality designer glasses and contact lenses to clients across the UK. More recently, Bayfields has diversified its offering by introducing audiology services and hearing aids to its rapidly growing client base.

It has also set up The Beyond Bayfields Charity, supporting the education of trainee optometrists in Sierra Leone and working with local schools in the UK to educate pupils on the importance of vision and eye testing.

Chris Boyes, an investor at BGF, commented: “We first met Royston and the team in 2015 and have since seen them expand the Bayfields brand impressively, developing a market-leading offering through investment in technology, expansion of its product ranges and a commitment to the highest quality of care for its growing customer base.

“We are excited to be joining the business. The market for growth through acquisitions in this sector is significant, and with a proven management team and strong central platform, Bayfields is in a strong position to capitalise on growth opportunities in the future.”

Founded at a single site in 2004 by optometrist Royston Bayfield, the business has since grown to 19 practices – including sites in County Durham, Lancashire, Hampshire, Surrey and Yorkshire – with 13 sites acquired within the last four years alone.

The group currently employs more than 160 staff across the UK, including 70 specialists, and has revenues of £12m.

Paul Herriott, Corporate Finance Director at DSW, which advised the company on the transaction, commented: “We have admired Bayfields’ customer proposition and growth ambitions over recent years and are delighted to have advised Royston and the team on securing this important investment. The partnership between Bayfields and BGF will undoubtedly support the business to achieve even greater success in this very specialist and evolving market.”

The investment was led for BGF by Chris Boyes and Mark Rigby. The advisors to the transaction were: Sandip Khroud, Gateleys Plc, for BGF; Paul Herriot and Roger Esler (DSW), and Marcus Armstrong (Shulmans), for Bayfields Opticians.

New Essilor Commercial Director

June 2020

Essilor Ltd has announced the appointment of Alan Pitcher as commercial director.

Alan Pitcher Essilor New Commercial Director June 2020Alan will drive ECP business solutions that challenge, inspire and ultimately deliver growth for independent opticians.

Alan has a strong background delivering growth in the health sector, after spending 15 years working with orthopaedic medical devices to improve patient care and provider profitability.

On his appointment, Alan said: “While I’m passionate about performance and excited about industrial innovation, my short-term focus will be on engaging with, understanding and helping ECPs navigate the new normal around Covid-19.

“Much will undoubtedly change in this industry in the coming years, but I’m driven to see lens volumes return to pre-crisis levels and see key brands return to monthly growth before year end.

“More than anything, that level of recovery would indicate a prosperous return to business for our ECP partners.”

In his former role, Alan counts his greatest accomplishment as driving forward the merits of surgical robotics. Not only was it sought by orthopaedic surgeons for their patients but also embraced by hospital management for its commercial impact.

He adds: “Building a true business partnership, where I completely understand the customers’ needs and in turn find an appropriate solution has always motivated me.”

Tim Precious, managing director at Essilor Ltd, said: “Alan is a solid addition to the team and will undoubtably drive the business forward and support ECP growth as part of our promise to be their best business partner.”

LOOK – made in Italia, look not for " price but values"

May 2020

In a video message from LOOK's CEO Vittore Tormen, he discusses globilisation.

Vittore Tormen CEO LOOK
"Over the years, globalization has led to an increasingly uncontrolled consumption, due mainly to products of Chinese origin whose value have been compromised for the sake of price.

That is why, today more than ever, choosing to consume in a responsible way is a clear and conscious position. And choosing to buy a product of excellence, made entirely in Italy, means understanding the intrinsic value of the product itself by recognizing its traceability. It also represents a real way to protect our health, whilst contributing in a tangible way to the recovery of the entire economy.

An ethical and sustainable production system is based on a fairer redistribution of value with the aim of improving people's well-being. That is why each of us has the opportunity to make a real difference through our purchases. For ourselves and for others.

Because the economic system is built by people who today have a privilege: awareness that they can choose, buy and live responsibly."

Watch the video message from Vittore Tormen, CEO at LOOK

Operational and fully mobilized Oko by Oko supports its partner opticians.

May 2020

The situation we have just gone through is unprecedented, and government decisions have more than upset the daily lives and professional activities of our optician clients.

In these exceptional circumstances, we would like to express our full support and solidarity to our OKO certified opticians. We will have to face together this adversity more united than ever. This is why we have particularly adapted our actions and decisions in order to focus as closely as possible on their support, which will be managed on a case by case basis by store.

In order to maintain the proximity and loyalty that unite us, a billing deferral or a staggered payment of orders may be implemented by our accounting department. Our wish is simple: to support them in this recovery.

The OKO team is of course operational and fully mobilized to ensure daily activity and prepare now for the coming months with all the necessary sanitary measures.

We are at their side optimistic, confident and convinced of the usefulness of a business model on a human scale, closer, simpler and more attentive to everyone.

This period of confinement largely inspired us in our new communication campaign* which has only one goal: to distribute joy and happiness in a world turned upside down and abused - faithful to the values and OKO DNA of optimism, playfulness and colorful.

Blackfin CEO talks about Re-Starting in available video

May 2020

“In this particular moment, that has no precedent in our recent history, we had time to think about ourselves again, to strengthen the foundations of that awareness that allowed us, more than ten years ago, to give shape to the Blackfin dream. We are not here to tell you that it will be easy to re-start, these would be simply empty words. But we want to tell you with strength and confidence that it will only be possible by believing in ourselves, in our values, in our education and in our history”.

The words of CEO Nicola Del Din carry the message that Blackfin wants to share with its clients, stakeholders and the entire eyewear sector. A relaunch message that acknowledges awareness of the difficulties, along with the eagerness of those who are ready to start up again, because they know they have the momentum to get right back into action, building on the company’s core assets:

Absolute independence, which makes Blackfin the sole agent of its destiny in Summary

Extreme integrity of mountain people; of those who look into the future but have their feet firmly planted on the ground, thus leading the company to financial independence, a must in these times
Authentically Italian domestic production, that means total control over the entire production process and product quality. In a word: Neomadeinitaly
People-centric, with shared values and culture
A half-century of experience, know-how gained step-by-step, learning from our successes and failures, but always in a proactive and visionary way
Steady vision, the spark that shines in the eyes of those who are ever optimistic and who believe there is always another step to be taken
Exclusive product, where form is tied to substance and the aesthetic detail is never just a creative exercise but the result of functional research
Superior material, titanium, the Blackfin DNA
Flexible dynamism, the company’s independence allows it to respond immediately to market changes and drives its ability to tailor its response to customer needs
True sustainability, taking shape in the new production and corporate headquarters building nearing completion – in its original location – the first certified KlimaHaus [ClimateHouse] Work & Life in the Veneto Region

Watch the full video-message here:

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will launch online on 26 May.

May 2020

The scheme will enable employers with fewer than 250 employees to claim coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of employers.

You’re eligible to use the scheme if:

• you’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
• you had a PAYE payroll scheme in operation before 28 February 2020
• you had fewer than 250 employees across all PAYE schemes on 28 February 2020
• you’re eligible to receive State Aid under the EU Commission Temporary Framework.

The repayment will cover up to two weeks of the applicable rate of SSP, and is payable if a current or former employee was unable to work on or after 13 March 2020 and entitled to SSP, because they either:

• have coronavirus
• are self-isolating and unable to work from home
• are shielding because they’ve been advised that they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

To prepare to make a claim, you should keep records of all the SSP payments you wish to claim for.

For more information about eligibility and how employers can prepare to use the scheme, please visit GOV.UK and search 'Check if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19)'.

Please only call us if you cannot find the support you need on GOV.UK advice pages or through our webchat service – this will leave our lines open for those who need our help most.

You can find out more about this coronavirus support measure, and others such as HMRC’s Job Retention Scheme, by signing up to one of our webinars. For more information please visit GOV.UK and search for 'Help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)'.

A word about scams

We are aware of an increase in scam emails, calls and texts. If someone gets in touch claiming to be from HMRC, saying that financial help can be claimed or that a tax refund is owed, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, please do not respond. You can forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to and texts to 60599.

AbbVie Completes Acquisition of Allergan

May 2020

AbbVie announced that it has completed its acquisition of Allergan after receiving regulatory approval from all government authorities required by the transaction agreement and approval by the Irish High Court.

“We are pleased to reach this important milestone for the company, its employees, shareholders and the patients we serve,” Richard A. Gonzalez, chairman and chief executive officer, AbbVie, said in a company news release. “Our new Allergan colleagues should be commended for all their efforts, along with those of our own employees, to achieve this turning point for our company. The new AbbVie will be a well-diversified leader in many important therapeutic categories, with both on-market and pipeline assets, and our financial strength will allow us to continue to invest in innovative science and continue to serve unmet medical needs of patients that rely upon us. I am proud of both organizations and look forward to the opportunities ahead.”

The $63 billion blockbuster acquisition was first announced in June 2019. The deal was announced as AbbVie sought new sources of growth as it braces for the end of patent protection for the world’s top-selling drug, Humira.

Humira represents about 60% of AbbVie’s sales and will represent about 40% of the combined company’s sales.

While a main driver of the deal was Allergan’s medical aesthetics business, including Botox, the deal will give AbbVie a presence in eye care. In addition to Restasis, Allergan’s eye care portfolio includes glaucoma drugs Alphagan, Combigan and Lumigan; macular edema and noninfectious uveitis drug Ozurdex, and its Refresh brand OTC drops. Allergan also has several products in its eye care pipeline, including the Bimatoprost SR biodegradable implant for the reduction of IOP, and abicipar for patients with wet AMD.

The transaction expands and diversifies AbbVie’s revenue base and complements existing leadership positions in immunology, with Humira, and recently launched Skyrizi and Rinvoq, and hematologic oncology, with Imbruvica and Venclexta. Allergan provides new growth opportunities in neuroscience, with Botox Therapeutics, Vraylar and Ubrelvy and a global aesthetics business, with leading brands including Botox and Juvederm.

IPRO for audiologists boosts practice efficiency

May 2020

Private hearing aid sales growth of around 7%* per annum, and significant advances over NHS options, are ensuring that audiology is on a very healthy trajectory for businesses looking to diversify alongside optometry.

With nearly a quarter of devices now being sold privately, good marketing and referrals from existing patients are key – both aspects of business which are greatly enhanced by IPRO’s audiology practice management software. Bringing together 25 years of experience, optimised by close co-operation with users, IPRO’s software is managing the business aspects of some of the UK’s most respected providers. Fully integrated with industry standard NOAH 4.10, the modular software tracks the patient’s journey from the first consultation, to after sales, repairs and check-ups. Video consultations are an increasingly popular feature of the software as they reduce direct contact and can be saved onto the patient record: a significant benefit in the Covid-19 era.

Businesses looking to promote the advantages of enhanced - and increasingly discreet audiology devices - to their local community can benefit from the patient loyalty programmes.

Lynne Leeming’s Charnwood Hearing Aid Centre near Leicester, is about to celebrate 10 years of using winIRPO and said ““The software can track anything: as soon as a patient telephones we can see at a glance what hearing aid they have, what batteries and which wax guard they use, and their status on payment.”

Lynne is a keen user of the recall and reminder functions, with the facility to email patient promotions wherever the team is working.

“The fact that I have full ownership of the data is very important. Recently the internet was down at the practice for a fortnight – I was so pleased that I did not have a cloud-based PMS system.
“I am also using winIPRO2Go where I can dial in via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). When I am out on visits I have the full database and functionality on my devices with all aspects updated seamlessly. I bought the system outright as I prefer to know that I own it, and the service that I get from IPRO is fantastic – there is always someone at the end of the phone.”

Carlton Plaatjes at IPRO
Selma Becker who has a private audiology practice in Farnham Common, Help in Hearing, also likes the fact that the IPRO software enables her to maintain full control over patient data, and that the modular system can be scaled up and she explained "It does just about everything and is very adaptable to the way we like to run our business. We use if for any kind of patient marketing, plus it runs the diary, patient orders and so on. NOAH data integrates very easily as does the software from all of the major device manufacturers - we have never had any problems in accessing data.

“I have the Home Visit module on my laptop and when I return to the practice it updates over the server. It is very well designed and organised, along with great support when we need it.”

Fergusons Hearing Clinic in Limerick, which has more than 4,000 patients, has been using the software for six years. “It is just great, particularly in liaising with the professionals and in keeping track of payments,” said Margaret Kennedy, Support Manager at the practice.

“Apart from appointment management and template referral letters to the ENT specialists, we are able to send very specific recall letters related to the age of the patient and the type of hearing aid that they have. When we put in the patient’s name everything comes up on the screen – we know when to post the batteries and if they have been paid for, as the system keeps track of this.”

Carlton Plaatjes, Head of IPRO UK,image above, added, “The flexibility that the system provides, the fact that it is not cloud-based, and the full NOAH integration means the software wins hands down. It is fully optimized and fast to use, which is important in a busy practice and when you have someone on the end of a phone. We have tremendous experience in implementing IPRO software and ensuring the transition from an existing software provider is straightforward. Our team training ensures that the greatest benefit is achieved for any business.”

Todays (7th May) BOE Statement

May 2020

The Bank of England (BOE) on Thursday chose to hold its benchmark interest rate at 0.1% and maintain its pace of asset purchases to lift the economy during the coronavirus crisis. However, it also warned that the UK faces a “very sharp” fall in economic growth.

While the bank decided not to issue its traditional forecasts, the bank predicted that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) could shrink by 14% in 2020, noting that there would be a “substantial increase” in unemployment in the first half of 2020.

It said, however, that the decline in economic growth should be “temporary” and that activity should pick up “relatively rapidly.”

The bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to hold the bank rate at 0.1%.

While the committee also voted to continue with its £200bn ($250bn) asset-purchasing programme, two members voted to increase the target for these purchases by £100bn.

Noting that households and businesses would continue to engage in a degree of precautionary behaviour even once coronavirus restrictions are relaxed, the bank said the economy would still take “some time” to recover towards its previous path.

In what it calls its “illustrative scenario,” which assumes that social distancing measures and government support schemes remain in place until early June before being “gradually unwound” by the end of the third quarter, GDP growth could rebound by 15% in 2021.

“The unprecedented situation means that the outlook for the UK and global economies is unusually uncertain. It will depend critically on the evolution of the pandemic, and how governments, households and businesses respond to it,” the bank said.

UK starting salaries shrink at fastest rate since 2009

PPE eyewear needs to be anti-fogging

April 2020

Progear Gel and Cloths

Eye protection for NHS and front-line workers should be “resistant to fogging”, official advice states, but Norville wonders how many lenses are meeting the challenge.

The UK supplier is promoting a very effective wipe-on gel which provides very good results when clear vision is essential.

Progear anti-fog gel is available as a box of 24 packs which include the buffing lens cloths.

"The gel provides a very effective solution for immediate results at work and in the lab or the kitchen. However, as a specialist lens producer we would normally recommend our own anti-fogging lens treatment which is applied in the lab at the time of lens manufacture. Suitable for most lens types including Trivex, polycarbonate and 1.60-1.67 but strangely not CR39, it is a very affordable addition which can resolve the issue of fogging on sports eyewear and in many work environments. This service is available now,” said Norville Chairman, Frank Norville.

Heidelberg's offer of Free breath Shields to their OCT customers has created a large demand

April 2020

Royal Surrey Hospital Since our story published story provided by Heidelberg earlier this month Heidelberg has supplied hundreds of OCT Breath Guards to its customers, both in hospitals and practice.

(Image left: Royal Surrey Hospital)

The ability to continue to continue vital ophthalmic investigations on both non covid and covid patients has proved invaluable especially in a hospital setting. But with many optometrists continuing to provide essential MECS and PEARS services the offer has been most helpful.

Heidelberg staff have received many complimentary comments from their users and here is one that arrived out of the blue from Angelos Rantis at Hillingdon Hospitals.

“Today we received the breath shields for our Heidelberg Spectralis! Fortunately it fits pretty well on our device and it makes a tremendous difference making our scientific personnel feeling safe at work under these challenging circumstances. I would like to thank you for your generous contribution and wish you from our side to keep healthy and stay safe by respecting the social distance and the government's guidance! Please find attached a picture from our Heidelberg Spectralis with the Breath Shield fitted on and my precious colleague, who is seeing several patients in need every day during Covid-19 days.” (Image displayed on Opchat's Headline page.)

Darlington Hospital with OCT breath shields from HeidelbergAngelos Rantis, Senior Ophthalmic Photographer at The Hillingdon Hospitals

(Image right: Darlington Hospital)

Hospitals have also sent in images of the valuable and necessary work they are doing through the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Opchat News wishes them our thanks and our thoughts during this extraordinary time.

Heidelberg Engineering are longtime sponsors of your free Opchat News written by ECPs for ECPs and the benefit of the entire Vision Sector. Take a look at their page here

They are also one of the many companies staying open to support the optical community. (See List)

Shamir Support to the NHS and Keyworkers

April 2020

Birmingham and Midland

During this pandemic it’s been great to see everyone pull together and work as a team to battle this horrible disease, especially the brave NHS staff and other Key workers who have been the glue that’s held us all together. Unfortunately, there has been a national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

In response to this, Shamir UK, a lens manufacturer based in Cambridgeshire, has taken it upon themselves to offer a helping hand.

So far, with the generosity of their CEO, Yagen Moshe, they have donated 1,000 pairs of Anti-fog coated Safety Goggles to NHS Hospitals, Care Homes, GP Surgeries, Covid-19 Hubs, Opticians, District Nurses and several other Health Care workers. “We would like to say thanks to Shamir UK Ltd for kindly donating safety goggles to keep our Hera hero’s protected.” Homecare by Hera Ltd.

Additionally, as fogging is proving to be a prominent issue for those wearing medical face masks, Shamir UK has been working remotely with Opticians to distribute Glacier PlusTM Anti-fog coated lenses to deserving NHS Medical staff free of charge. So if you’re a UK Optician and want to get involved with this good cause then please get in touch with Shamir at

Further Testimonials

Vhurch Street Medical Practice
"A massive thank you to Shamir UK ltd and specifically Russ Bickle (and his wife Gill Bickle) for supplying my practice with a few pairs of these safety spectacles...Your kindness will make us feel a little safer as we continue to serve the eye care of the people of Brighton and Hove and beyond"
- The Eyecare Centre, Brighton & Hove Independent Opticians

"Thank you for your generous donation of protective goggles to our GP surgery and hub, they were gratefully received, and all the clinicians are very thankful. The goggles are very comfortable, and the anti-fog made a noticeable difference compared to other goggles we have used. Thank you for helping and protecting us in order to help others."
- Church Street Medical Practice, Coatbridge

“On behalf of the Thoracic Team at Barts, I would like to thank you for your very generous donation of safety glasses. We will use them daily in our surgical theatre to protect our patients and ourselves.”
- NHS Thorax Centre, Barts

Speedy SOS turnaround from Norville

April 2020

Francesca Fulgoni and Father
An SOS call from Francesca Fulgoni’s practice in Abergavenny, South Wales, to Norville’s Gloucester laboratory at 4.45pm on Friday afternoon with an urgent request was one of the most satisfying jobs ever for the practice and the lab.

One of the family practice’s longstanding patients - a 59 year old nurse - had been called to work in intensive care and had broken her specs.

“Luckily our surfacing line was still up and running so 45 minutes later one pair of resin bifocals were completed. We found a driver who buzzed off on empty roads, wondering if it could really be a Friday night!

Lab and practice met half way on the route and the lenses were cut and edged in practice. The Fulgoni hand over of the completed spectacles was done by 8.00pm,” said Norville Chairman, Frank Norville.

Francesca, a dispensing optician who runs the practice with her father, said, “It was unbelievable and gave us all a nice warm glowy feeling on a great job.”
Frank Norville, Chairman agreed. “I am sure one of many examples across the country where the ophthalmic sector has collectively clicked into action to produce similar outcomes. None of which would be possible without opticians being open and local laboratory capacity on hand rather than having to wait days at an airport for lenses to arrive from some far off place.”

Francesca is pictured with her father,John, donating safety specs to local healthcare workers

Live Webinars available as tutorials for understanding CJRS payments, but limited so hurry.

As part of the government’s commitment to provide support to businesses and employers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, HMRC have been offering live webinars on the Job Retention Scheme.

The following live webinar provides an overview of the support available to help employers and your employees deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Places are extremely limited so please save your place now.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme

During this webinar we’ll be taking a look at:
• furloughed workers
• who can apply for the scheme
• following the rules of the scheme
• how much may be claimed
• how to claim and what you’ll need to claim.

Choose a date and time

If you’ve missed any of our other recent webinars, or have been unable to join, you can now view a recording on HMRC’s YouTube channel.

Grafton Optical updates customers on how they are responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

April 2020

A quote from our CEO, David Thickens, below on how we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Dvid Thickens CEO Grafton Optical
"Grafton Optical is still open and we are happy to be providing support, service and sales to our valued customers throughout this uncertain time. We have always strived to work with customers to find solutions to suit individual needs, and are happy to discuss this with anyone experiencing difficulties in the current climate. We would like to reassure everyone that we are taking all of the necessary steps to protect our employees and customers and are still able to provide the same high level of support that we always have, especially at this difficult time.

" In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we have designed and manufactured a large, Universal Slit Lamp Breath Shield to supply to independent and chain opticians, hospitals and universities across the UK and Ireland. These are being locally produced, helping to support UK business and we are making these accessible to as many practices and organisations as possible. We have seen huge popularity in this product, supplying over 1,000 units in the first 2 weeks.

Feedback on the shield has been fantastic, with many customers commenting that the size and quality of the product is far superior to others available on the market. Grafton Optical Slit Lamp Breath Shields are available now.

We have also just made available a range of Clear Perspex Counter Top Hygiene Screens. Constructed of durable 5mm clear Perspex for easy cleaning, these free standing screens can be used on desktops and counters to help maintain suitable distance requirements for infection control. "

These are available in four sizes, with or without access slots, and are avaiable to buy. See here.

Further Business Advice and thoughts on actions required during this Covid 19 Phase and planning for the Restart

April 2020

Following the encouragement to plan and prepare for the end of some or all of the lockdown instructions for Opticians in the future following our editor’s remarks last week. Kinnaird Hill, associates of Eros Business Consulting have made some valuable suggestions and actions that Optical Businesses should be considering during the current lockdown and to be ready for the Restart.

Our Business Briefing sector page has been updated with these ideas as well as information for those indirect tax payers who import from the EU and are required to send in Intrastat Submissions.

You can find the Business Covid Briefings in our Business Briefing area on the site.

List of Companies providing products and services to Optical Practices continues to grow

April 2020

The list now contains special contact details during the Covid Pandemic for Frame, Optical Instruments and Finance houses as well as our initial contact lens and spectacle lens listing.

If you are supporting Opticians during this time with any product or service and you have special Covid contact details (phone/email) then email and we will add you to the appropriate category or create a new one!

Following our initial publication 2 weeks ago David Cantor of Cantor and Nissel sent us his thanks for spreading the word. He has used all contacts, social media and publications to tell the world they are open for business and it is working. “Running at 40% of normal production with 60% of staff on furlough. Those working are very keen and productive.
We are making a full range of products and giving a good service. Most gratifying, many customers, especially NHS hospitals, are expressing their gratitude.
Hopefully we will come through this leaner and fitter. I hope restrictions will start to be lifted towards the end of May. And maybe some of our European customers will be coming out of lockdown. Again, many thanks for your support.” David.

Heidelberg Engineering supply free OCT protective breath shields

April 2020

Heidelberg Shield for OCT
Heidelberg Engineering have begun shipping protective breath shields free of charge to SPECTRALIS owners in the UK. The protective breath shield is designed to form a transparent barrier between the patient and the operator of the device in order to minimise the risk of the transfer of pathogens*.

“We are committed to aiding our customers in every way we can during the COVID-19 pandemic”, explains Tosh Vadhia, General Manager, Heidelberg Engineering Limited. “We are providing the breath shields free of charge in a special initiative to support the NHS and our optometry customers who are still providing emergency services to their communities. We hope the breath shields, combined with other personal protective equipment, will help eye care professionals to continue to provide essential ophthalmic imaging services to patients as safely as possible during this challenging time”.

Breath shields are available to SPECTRALIS owners on request. Please email for more information.

*The protective breath shield is not an approved medical device and it is not guaranteed to block transmission of viral pathogens, reduce the risk of infection, or prevent disease.

Protective Eyewear available the next day!

April 2020

Norville PPE
is providing a next day delivery service – in many cases – for Rx protective eyewear.

As Frank Norville Chairman of te Norville Group says, "When you look for a protective eyewear with an inner face seal you soon realise how few there are. We have the model 220 FS which has proved to be highly satisfactory for many. Other options are available on our website in the protective and sports eyewear categories.”

MEI srl donates 500 thousand euros for the Coronavirus emergency

April 2020

To face the Coronavirus emergency MEI, the global leader in the production of lens edging machines, wanted to manifest its solidarity by contributing to the fundraising initiatives launched in the area of its Italian headquarters. Bergamo, Italy is one of the cities most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak in the world.

MEI Headquarters
MEI, with the support of its not-for-profit MEI Foundation, donated € 150,000 to the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo and another € 150,000 to the Health Protection Agency of Bergamo.

Furthermore, MEI wanted to support research assuring that the path taken by the Italian Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research can help contrast the Coronavirus emergency. MEI has therefore decided to support the Institute with a contribution of € 200,000.

"With these donations we wanted to give concrete support to our community and communicate our gratitude to all the healthcare professionals and researchers involved in this emergency. The situation is dramatic, the needs are many, from logistical to instrumental ones." - explains Stefano Sonzogni, president of MEI - "Certain that we will win this battle, we hope that the situation will soon return to normal."

MEI Foundation has been active for several years in solidarity projects mainly related to the treatment of vision diseases, especially for pediatric patients, in different parts of the world.

MEI products are available from Mainline Instruments, a supporting sponsor of Opchat News your free ECP News source written by ECPs.See their page here

Norville to provide emergency replacement specs

April 2020

Lens Checking by Norville
Emergency specs are available from Norville, which is at the forefront of responding to the demands of COVID 19 by continuing to support High Street opticians, and hospital eye clinics around the UK.

The Norville labs in Gloucester, Seaham, Bolton and Edinburgh are set up to produce and dispatch specs, on the same day, to the patient’s home address via Royal Mail.

Following verification by a current ABDO member, Norville will make the emergency specs – for both adults and children - from its safety eyewear collections for PPE requirements, and from the long established Allyn range of 23 frames.

Chairman, Frank Norville explained, "This modified procedure, now confirmed by The College and GOC as acceptable even for children’s spectacles, will meet the needs of those who have damaged or broken their specs and need instant help. "

Frank Norville Chairman Norville

" Our Allyn range includes an extensive choice of metals and acetates with a selection of sizes from 48mm to 60mm. Single vision stock range can be produced and dispatched on the same day, surfaced perhaps similar, but tints or MAR to surfaced range will extend the timing slightly,”

Aware of the need to maintain GDPR protocols, the dispatched specs will be mailed with a case and a “With Compliments” slip, bearing the practice name.

“The government has instructed optical practices to continue to provide urgent eye care throughout the crisis to enable people in need, and key workers, to access essential eye care which cannot be postponed. We hope this service will cover any emergency Rx supply requests. Of course, if it is a replacement for a previous order processed by us we will have the exact details in our Rx data base. Having the date of the supply will help to speed up the process.”

There will be no extra service charge for emergency spectacle supply. The cost will be charged to the practice’s account with a £4.50 postal charge.

Lens Companies still providing services during pandemic.

March 2020

FMO provides a list of surfacing and glazing companies available to perform emergency glazing during the Covid Pandemic

The list includes a list of both FMO members and others who currently provide staff to offer assistance for emergency work required by practices. Obviously the situation is fluid but as of now these lens companies are here to help.

The story follows the information provided by Cantor and Nissel announcing their continuation of emergency assistance.

PHN will publish shortly a fixed banner that will link to an archived list of all optical manufacturers prepared to work through the pandemic under our dispensing briefing area.

If your company should be highlighted from whatever sector please ask us to add you to the list. Send to PHN at

FMO Members* and others

Caledonian *


01224 596 006

Dunelm *


01388 420 420

Essilor *


01454 281 281

Hoya *


0844 873 1110

Eye Index *


01480 499 600

Itec *


01582 594 405

Norville Group *


01452 510332

One Optical * 


0141 643 0639

Quincey Eyewear *


01872 571615

Rodenstock *


01474 531122

Zeiss Vision *


0845 300 7788

Advanced Optical


01494 726 037


Barnsley Optical


01226 390481



01254 705402

Berkshire Labs


01635 865050




0131 661 4555

Independent Optics


01954 231545

Industrial Eyecare

St Helens

01695 581222

Jai Kudo


020 8732 9600          

JLL Optics


0141 763 1558

JS Optical


01562 862409




029 2088 3009



0191 271 5050




0151 420 4080        

Optimum Coatings


01524 541540

PKP Optics

Paddock Wood

01892 837979


Pollard Optical


07722 011914

Sales Optical


01722 331544


Tant Labs

Bishop Stortford

email only



02380 429 660

Whatever goods and services you can provide the practices remaing open and wish to be added to our list please send:

Product/Goods Type; Company Name; Town; Telephone Number; Email. to mail

Cantor & Nissel remain open to assist Practices in emergency work.

March 2020

Cantor and Nissel open
Cantor & Nissel remains open, albeit with reduced staff, to offer a service for those needing our extensive range of contact lenses, almost all Medical Devices.

From bandage lenses to artificial eyes, we can supply a large range of lenses in these difficult times.

David Cantor started the original company in 1964 , taking over G.Nissel & Co in 2000.

The company manufactures a complete range of cosmetic and prosthetic soft and rigid lenses together with lenses for a variety of eye conditions.

In fact , almost anything except disposable and moulded products.

The company remains open to provide a service , albeit with a reduced staff .

WinIPRO PMSbuilds on its reliability reputation.

March 2020

WinIPRO, the European practice management system, has launched a new payment plan with rental and one-off price options.

Starting at just £170 per month for a five year winIPRO RELAX contract, the modular system offers great flexibility which is designed to incorporate as many modules as the practice team wish to utilise. The RELAX contract includes the appointment, referral, recall SMS and email, dispensing, contact lens, and remote support modules. Longstanding customers praise the stability of the system and, for many, the fact that it is not cloud-based is a tremendous asset –

“When the internet goes down the practices can just carry on working. It also makes it a very valuable option for those who do home visits, or who work in remote areas of the UK. Our customers keep telling us that they like having autonomy of their customers’ details, rather than cloud-hosted. They also like the fact that small groups are networked to each other and sometimes to a hub lab,” said Carlton Plaatjes, Head of IPRO UK.

The choice to integrate with diagnostic technology, OCT, visual fields, 3D scanners and data mining for the most bespoke recall means that many practices have a very longstanding record with IPRO. Others are being drawn to the software thanks to its hearing aid management system which integrates with NOAH, the de facto standard for hearing devices –
Robert Gough, Dispensing Optician Manager of Praills Opticians in Fareham, Hampshire, has been using winIPRO for 15 years –

“It is very flexible, straightforward, and it never goes wrong! It does what it says it will do on the tin, and the price is very reasonable. The fact that it can link up all the retinal equipment and visual field screeners is very good. We make a lot of use of diary and the online booking function, dispensing, stock control, and epos modules. What really stands out is the way we use recall – we send out more than 40 different types of letters – glaucoma recalls at 3 or 6 months, children’s eye tests, OCT scans and just about everything else,” said Robert.

Alan Verrinder, the Dispensing Optician owner of his eponymous practice in Tewkesbury, has been using winIPRO for 18 years –

“It works! The workshop module works very well with our own lab, and we utilise ordering, cash system, EPOS, appointments and document management. The reminders module is very good and we do a few each day so that we never have a great surge. The support is also great.”

The three Probert and Williams practices in a 36 mile radius in West Wales are linked together which makes it very useful for appointments and stock control, explained Gruff Williams, Practice Manager of the Aberaeron branch –

“We like the fact that the system is modular and that you can tailor it to your own requirements. Appointments, reminders, and the great dispensing model which keeps a tally of costs for patients is very useful. It also tells you if the lenses are going to work with that specific frame. We are not the most computer literate team but everyone finds their way around the system very well,” said Gruff.

Joy Gerhard, Administrator of Stony Opticians, Buckinghamshire, said the practice has been using winIPRO for more than 20 years –
“We made the right choice! We have always been very happy with the system. It is so quick and easy to use. No more writing everything down – it is very efficient.”

Carlton Plaatjes added –
“The fact that winIPRO integrates into a lab of choice is very important for many of our 3,000+ users in Europe. Every day they demonstrate – through their use of our system - that optics is so much more than just selling glasses.”

*Data transfer from other systems is also available.

The International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy (ISCT), warning on fake stem cell covid tech

March 2020

ISCT is the global society of clinicians, researchers, regulators, technologists, and industry partners dedicated to the translation of cellular therapy into safe and effective therapies to improve patients’ lives, today and announces it is discussing with scientific and industry organizations and regulators a range of actions against the proliferation of unproven and untested ‘stem cell’–based therapies with claims to treat COVID-19. It also urges patients and families to consult expert medical professionals for the most accurate available information on treatment options.

“Organizations across the life science industry, including the cell and gene therapy (CGT) sector, are currently united in the key focus of finding evidence-based treatments and vaccines for the current COVID-19 pandemic. These therapies and vaccines could save vast numbers of lives globally,” said Dr Daniel Weiss, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of ISCT. “It is critical that these vital and urgent efforts are not hampered by unscrupulous companies profiting by offering false and unproven interventions. These false interventions can cause immense harm by eroding the confidence of the public, investors, and the wider communities in the medical and biopharma sectors at the very time it is needed most.”

ISCT set up its Presidential Task Force in 2014 in its ongoing commitment to address the rise of commercially available unproven cell and gene therapy treatments. In October 2019, it formed a cell and gene therapy sector-wide coalition of organizations across the globe to combat the rise in the number of unproven commercial cell banking services. The PTF also publishes a biennial report detailing global CGT with market authorization which patients and physicians can utilize to make informed decisions on treatments. ISCT is currently in conversations with its consortia partners, as well as regulators and governments globally, regarding options to prevent organizations operating outside of current clinical guidance.

Prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic, ISCT identified that the unproven cell therapy market is currently worth up to USD 2.4 billion and involves approximately 60,000 patients annually, paying up to USD 40,000 per treatment. ISCT believes that during the current COVID-19 climate, the number of patients and the costs of these ‘treatments’ will considerably increase.

“The current climate of a quickly spreading COVID-19 infection and a lack of approved treatments creates a perfect storm that results in a plethora of unethical organizations offering unproven therapies. These organizations offering untested therapies outside of proper clinical pathways for COVID-19 create a real and immediate risk to life. These treatments often lack proof of efficacy, and potentially have a very high cost to desperate patients. Most importantly, these ‘treatments’ produced with no evidence can be even more dangerous to the immediate health of patients and their communities,” said Dr. Laertis Ikonomou, PhD, co-chair of the ISCT PTF on the Use of Unproven and/or Unethical Cell and Gene Therapy. “ISCT will work with government agencies and regulatory bodies internationally to take action against those looking to profit from a pandemic that is affecting so many people across the globe.”

New Statement from the Chancellor late last night

March 2020

The Chancellor, this evening,(20th March) announced further measures to support people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

The Chancellor’s statement can be found at GOV.UK.

Updated guidance for employers, businesses and employees is available at:

COVID-19: support for businesses

We will continue to share the most up to date information directly with you as it becomes available.

Newly Appointed Professional Services Consultant for UltraVision

March 2020

Debbie Hopkins UltraVisionUltraVision are excited to welcome Debbie Hopkins as their newly appointed Professional Services Consultant. With over 13 years of experience in the hospital sector, Debbie will play a key role in supporting our hospital customers, offering technical assistance and providing exceptional education and training, including CET accredited content.

Debbie says “I am thrilled to be joining UltraVision’s Specialist Lens Team. My hospital fitting experience combined with UltraVision’s expertise and extensive range of specialist contact lenses is an exciting opportunity to support those working in this niche field.”

Covid brings back difficult times to our businesses, things to do and check ahead of the slow down

March 2020

Eros Business Consulting and its associates in business management, Kinnaird Hill and Face2Face (HR specialists) offer some pointers in the Covid-19 Struggle

We are entering a very difficult period for business. So we have put together some thoughts and advice that may be helpful, or at least thought provoking.

We all need to think clearly and act decisively to ensure that we have a business once the crisis is over.

If you think you may soon have a cash flow problem, act now!


It is early days, the Government are still making policy and in reality it will take them a week or so to really understand the help that could be considered.

Our advice is to tighten belts now.

We have put this list of hopefully useful ideas together with the help of my colleagues at Kinnaird Hill, in St Ives Cambs and with HR assistance from Face2Face.

We do appreciate that all businesses, a few days ago were running good, successful, well managed businesses, and they are now going to have a very hard time for the next few months.

The paper was put together for Eros Business Consulting specialists in Optical and Primary Care Business Strategy and Indirect Taxation for Opticians, by Kinnaird Hill (St Ives, Cambs) specialist accountants in SME’s and GP Practice.

Click to the Business Briefing on the PHN site for information on

VAT … Get on the phone
Tax ….. Get on the phone
Creditors… Get on the phone.
IR35 Private Sector
Sick Pay
Business rates
Business insurance CHECK!
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Mortgage holiday
Human Resources, health and safety and employment issues helpline

Click to the Business Briefing on the PHN site for information on

Covid-19 knock on affects on business and what to do

March 2020

If you are an employer or a business owner we encourage you to read and follow the guidance for employers and businesses.

This guidance will assist employers and businesses with advice on:

the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19

what to do if someone in the workplace becomes ill

advice on sick pay and certification of absence from work resulting from COVID-19

business support measures on rate relief and loans

Business support announced in the Budget and 17 March

In the Budget (11 March 2020) the Chancellor announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses to ensure the impact of COVID-19 is minimised.

A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses to apply for a loan of up to £5 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.

A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

There will be a £10,000 cash grant to our smallest businesses, delivered by local authorities. Small businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief will be contacted by their local authority - they do not need to apply. The funding will be provided to local authorities in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Finally, the government is introducing a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

A £25,000 grant will also be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority.

Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March.

In addition, the decisions announced by the Bank of England on 11 March 2020 mean that banks are in a better position to provide additional credit to smaller businesses.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

The coronavirus clearly poses multiple challenges for businesses, and I know from regular calls with business representatives that many are concerned about the longer-term effects on investment, cash flow and the future of their businesses.

Supporting companies through this period is a top priority and a whole of government effort. The measures set out in the Budget show that this government will support business through this turbulent time and keep the economy moving. We will continue to review these measures as the impact of the virus progresses.


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