BUSINESSES have been urged to take a “calm and sensible” approach to dealing with the coronavirus as concerns rise about how its spread could hit businesses.

Yesterday was labelled “Black Monday” by some analysts as more than £140billion was wiped off the value of UK companies in early trading.

The crash came amid an oil price war as well as concern about the impact COVID-19 could have on economies across the world.

Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it is watching the local situation and sharing advice on its website. Last week, the chamber urged guests at its networking event not to exchange handshakes and hugs as a precaution.

Dorset Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “We are keeping a very close eye on the situation and sharing advice and guidance with the business community.

“We’ll be providing regular updates highlighting any changes to requirements and guidance via social media and our website which already includes a dedicated coronavirus area in the Business Support section.

“We are also closely monitoring for any problems and we’d encourage all businesses to feed back any issues caused to us.

“There is concern within the business community and we’d encourage all businesses to take a calm and sensible approach and carefully assess any potential risks.

“Contingency planning is essential and businesses should prepare for issues such as enabling staff to work at home where possible.

“We’d also encourage businesses to ensure their staff are aware of the steps they need to take as individuals and encourage people to be responsible but not panic.”

As stock markets plunged yesterday, Gary Neild, managing director of Blue Sky Financial Planning in Poole, said: “The spread of the coronavirus and the subsequent response by governments around the world, has led to an economic crisis and a significant drop in the value of company shares across the world.”

He advised investors not to panic. “If you don’t need the money, then sit tight, prices will bounce back, it’s just a question of when,” he said.

He said the crash could represent an opportunity for people with money to invest. “It would be prudent to invest money periodically into this market. In other words, drip feeding money makes sense and lowers your risk by buying at different prices, such as those who pay regularly into a company pension,” he said.

He added: “Portfolios have fallen but the impact has been tempered by diversification. The headlines around the FTSE 100 have been startling but it’s worth remembering that this index is skewed heavily in favour of oil stocks, which have taken a battering.

“We may not have seen a virus like this before, but neither have we seen a response from governments like we have with the coronavirus. There are lots of lessons to be learnt but when this passes, the fit and healthy will flourish, both on a human and business perspective.”