While it has been a hard time for most business, it has been the hospitality sector that has faced the full brunt of the consequences of the pandemic.After emerging from the second national lockdown on December 2, most of Britain was placed under tiered restrictions as cases of COVID-19 continued to rise.The lockdown forced hotels, bars and restaurants to close and with more regions rising through the tiers, many have not opened their doors in months. Swathes of the country joined the list of tier 3 regions last week and then, if that wasn’t enough, tier 4 was announced, affecting London and a large portion of the south east.
What are the rules?
Under the latest Government’s guidelines, hotels in tier 1 and 2 can remain open although those in tier 3 and tier 4 regions should close. Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks in tier 3 and 4 should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, need accommodation while moving house, are self-isolating as required by law, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing.
Accommodation providers are also encouraged to work cooperatively with Local Authorities to provide accommodation to vulnerable groups including the homeless. Pubs, restaurants and bars in tier 1 are allowed to host multiple groups inside and outside, adhering to the rule of six, however, there are only three regions still in this tier – Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Scilly. In tier 2, pubs and bars must close unless operating as restaurants and can only serve alcohol when served with substantial meals. An 11pm curfew applies to both tier 1 and 2, with last orders called at 10pm, and they must provide full table service. In the highest two tiers, pubs, bars and restaurants must close completely and can only provide takeaway, delivery or click and collect services.
What support is out there?
The Government had extended its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme through to the end of March, 2021.The scheme will pay 80% of an employee’s monthly salary for hours not worked, up to £2,500. Staff do not have to be furloughed full-time to qualify, so employers have flexibility to use the scheme for any amount of time or shift pattern. Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. There are also a range of grants and loans available for businesses that have been forced to close or for those who have been severely impacted by local restrictions.
For more information on support for businesses in the UK, visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support