SHOPS selling non-essential items in the Royal Borough and across the UK have been told to shut to reduce the risk and spread of the coronavirus.

On Tuesday at 8.30pm, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an announcement that businesses big or small not selling food, medicine or other non-essential materials, must close with immediate effect.

The Prime Minister said: “To ensure the compliance with the government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately close all shops selling non-essential goods including clothing and electronic stores and other premises.”

If businesses don’t follow this then authorities can issue prohibition notices as well as a fine.

READ MORE: All Windsor and Maidenhead schools have been closed

The government also announced they will reimburse employers for 80 per cent of their staff’s wages that they pay through the coronavirus job retention scheme. The maximum payment from the government will be £2,500 per month.

The forced closures are another hit to businesses in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) as some were struggling with the shift to online stores and this year’s council budget.

With this recent announcement, the Observer looked into what this means for local businesses and if the Royal Borough council could provide any reassurances.

How will RBWM support small businesses?

The leader of the council and cabinet member for business, councillor Andrew Johnson (Conservative: Hurley and Walthams) said: “All we really can do is signpost businesses to the governments guidance, direct them to where government grants are available, perhaps, even assist in the application process.

“In terms of any top-up funding, it’s no secret our resources are incredibly stretched at the moment.

“All of our effort currently is going into protecting frontline services for the most vulnerable, particularly in adult and children services.

“As part of our recovery plan, when we hopefully get through the worst of this, then we will be looking to engaging with businesses proactively to make sure they are taking full advantage of the packages the government has put on the table for them.”

READ MORE: Royal Borough food banks receive funds from council

Should the advantage card parking discount axe be postponed?

Tory councillors faced a massive backlash from the opposition and locals after approving plans to scrap the parking discounts where RBWM residents paid for parking at a discounted rate, or at times for free, from tourist prices.

Both Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors argued this will hit businesses in Windsor and Maidenhead town centres as the high tourist parking fees will deter residents from shopping there.

Cllr Johnson said: “We are still progressing with that policy because we have to deliver the budget that was set at the end of last month.

“At the moment we are loathed to start rowing back on some of the earlier commitments made around our savings, assuming we don’t know how far that money will stretch.”

How hard will coronavirus impact the local economy?

The Windsor tourism trade will be hit the hardest in the borough with the council as well as businesses seeing less revenue from tourists because of this decline.

Cllr Johnson said: “It will have a significant impact in some parts of the royal borough.

“We are, sadly, in for some difficult times, but one of our key streams of work going forward as well as tackling the crisis is, when appropriate, looking to start at the recovery with a range of measures to make sure businesses take advantage of government grants and we continue to promote business friendly council policies as well.”

READ MORE: Windsor's hospice opens its doors to COVID-19 patients

What grants businesses can apply for?

Small and medium sized businesses and the self-employed with an annual turnover of less than £45 million can apply to the government’s business interruption loan scheme- an interest-free loan of up to £5 million to help them get through this unprecedented time.

The money will be provided by more than 40 lenders who have signed up to this scheme which includes high street banks like HSBC, Lloyds, etc as well as more specialist finance companies.

However, not every firm’s application for a loan will be successful as they will have to prove that they are a viable business which were operating strong before the coronavirus outbreak.

This is for businesses who just need that extra support in the short term during this crisis.