Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has produced a toolkit to help businesses prepare for a coronavirus pandemic.
It says the outbreak in China is already having an impact here and is advising firms to plan in case the virus takes hold in the UK.
Chamber Chief Executive Rob Johnston said: “Businesses that trade with China are seeing impacts now.
“With some factories in China on extended shutdown, shipments of goods are being interrupted and exporters are finding demand from Chinese consumers is weaker.
“We’re also aware of tourism businesses in the Lake District that are suffering because Chinese visitors aren’t coming.
“But the disruption will be much more severe if there is a major outbreak in the UK, which is why businesses should be assessing the risks and making plans now.”
Businesses can access the toolkit on the Chamber’s website at https://www.cumbriachamber.co.uk/news/27976-coronavirus-what-businesses-need-to-know
It includes official advice from the NHS, Foreign Office and the World Health Organisation including videos on how to stop the virus spreading and posters to download to inform staff.
There’s also a factsheet from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development setting out how responsible employers should respond to threat from coronavirus.
Rob added: “Our advice is similar to the advice we issued last year for coping with a potential no-deal Brexit.
“We’re telling businesses to do a risk assessment, look at their supply chains, identify vulnerabilities if supplies are interrupted and make contingency plans.
“Businesses also need to consider cash flow if there’s a risk that their business model will be disrupted. It’s better to discuss these issues with your bank now and make provision if you’re going to need an extended overdraft, for example.”