Revenue have issued their 3rd go at the guidance notes for the COVID-19 Restriction Support Scheme (“CRSS”) which is commonly referred to as the “Chris”. Expect more versions of the guidance over the next few days and weeks.
We have previously outlined the main aspects of the scheme. Please click here for a link to our previous article on the CRSS.
This note will concentrate on giving examples of what type of businesses qualify and more importantly which will not qualify.
To begin let us look at the main requirements of the scheme, namely that the trading activity must be carried on in a business premises where customers are restricted from accessing because of the level of restrictions the government has placed the country in. This requirement is going to cause problems as I will outline below. The other main requirement is turnover must be down 75% compared to the average turnover for the calendar year 2019. This should be fairly clear cut for most entities.
In order to qualify a business must show that as a direct consequence of Covid restrictions, customers are prohibited or significantly restricted from accessing their permanent business premises. An example of this would be that if a wet pub (looking forward to just calling them pubs sometime in the future) is allowed open under Level 1 then it wouldn’t qualify for the scheme as there is no restriction in the amount of people allowed into the pub (bar having to ensure social distancing). Under level 3 the wet pub is only allowed 15 people drinking outside and therefore are restricted under the guidelines and hence would qualify for the scheme under level 3. You have to use this methodology for each business. A business needs to ask itself are customers restricted from accessing my premises at the current level of Covid Restrictions and once that is decided upon, they then need to look at the turnover test.
Let us look at examples of businesses that would and would not qualify. Remember the below is based on Revenue’s interpretation of the scheme. It is not a commentary on what is fair or not.
Nightclubs/Casinos – Let us start with an easy one. These are closed for all levels of the Covid restrictions. Therefore, nightclubs should be allowed to claim the CRSS until the scheme ends.
Pubs – As mentioned above pubs will qualify when we are in Level 3 restrictions and above.
Hotels – Should qualify from level 3 onwards.
Travel agents – Will only qualify where customers can visit the premises and book their holiday. Online agents only will not qualify. The travel agent will only qualify from level 4 onwards as no restrictions are in place for level 3 besides having to socially distance at their premises.
Mobile coffee or food truck – These will not qualify as they do not have a fixed premises.
Taxi drivers – will not qualify as they do not have a fixed premises.
Market Stalls – will not qualify as they do not have a fixed premises.
Fishermen – will not qualify as customers do not visit their business premises under normal circumstances. Majority probably will not have a permanent premises in any case.
Circus or Fun fair – will not qualify unless they are always fixed in the one place.
Accountants/Solicitors – will not qualify as they are deemed an essential service and hence no restrictions in place for customers.
Window Blind Fitters – If they have a “shop” then they will qualify under level 4 and level 5 restrictions as customers are restricted from entering the shop. However, if they have no shop then they would not qualify. This is the case even though they are not allowed into the customers house. Same concept would apply to gardeners, cleaners, babysitters etc.
Builders – Classed as essential services so will not qualify under any level of restriction.
Coach tour operators – Will need more guidance on this. Most likely will not qualify if customers do not visit the building premises and book online or by phone.
Online shops Will not qualify even if they have a building used for storage of goods. Reason being is customers are not restricted from visiting the warehouse. This could be the case if turnover is down 100%.
Wholesale providers – Will not qualify. Again, customers are not restricted from visiting the premises as they do not sell to private customers. Take for an example a wholesale provider of food to hotels. The hotels are closed and qualify for the scheme. The wholesale provider has no turnover but still does not qualify.
Gyms/Pools and Leisure centres – Will qualify under Level 4 and 5. Under level 3 my interpretation is they will not qualify as they are no restrictions to how many customers are allowed in (even though they are only allowed individual training under level 3). More guidance will be needed on this one.
Indoor Museums/Galleries/other cultural activities – Will qualify from Level 3 onwards.
Retail shops – will qualify under level 4 & 5 of the restrictions. However essential retail shops will never qualify. For retail shops its important to understand what is essential and what is not. The below is just a summary of what would qualify and what would not.
- Juice bar in shopping centre – only provides takeaway service in normal circumstances and therefore will not qualify. Even though all other shops in the shopping centre are closed and very little to no footfall
- Clothes shop – as its classed as non-essential then it will qualify at level 4 or level 5. Be careful here where on one hand you might be trying to be classed as an essential service in order to stay open but on the other hand you might want to claim the CRSS
- Food shop – essential service so cannot claim the CRSS
- Takeaway – essential service so will not qualify
- Mechanics - essential service so will not qualify
- Motor Sales – will qualify under level 4 and 5 even if they also provide car servicing facilities as customers are restricted from visiting the show rooms
- Opticians – Essential service so will not qualify
- Non-essential shops providing a click and collect or online service – Will qualify under level 4 and 5.
The above hopefully gives you some understanding of which businesses qualify and which will not. It is not an exhaustive list. It also is our interpretation of the Revenue guidelines. These guidelines will no doubt change over the next few weeks.
Please click here for a link to our previous article on the CRSS.
Tax Partner - Quintas