On 23rd June Boris Johnston confirmed the 4th July re-opening of a number of hospitality and tourism businesses in England. As we expected, this came with a long list of conditions which need to be met.
The two metre social distancing rule being relaxed to ‘one metre plus’ was met with a huge sigh of relief by the industry as in many cases it is the difference between having a revised viable business model and millions of furloughed staff not having a job to go back to. Where it is possible to remain two metres you should continue to do so, but where this is not possible it should be ‘one metre plus’. Some updated guidance on Working safely during coronavirus has been published including the specific guidance for Hotels and other guest accommodation and Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services.
On 24th June the Scottish Government announced beer gardens could reopen there from 6th July, and pubs and restaurants can fully reopen from 15th July.
The sector was hit hard early on in the pandemic and has had to wait longer than most to get to a place where it can re-start. The government’s various forms of intervention and support measures have provided a vital lifeline for the industry, but there is still a fear that some businesses will fail before they have had the chance to bounce back due to the pressure of the social distancing measures and the crisis impact on consumer spending. Continued support from the Government into next year will be essential to save many jobs in a sector which is the third-largest employer in the country.
A brief summary of the new loosened measures from 4th July:
Unfortunately those with close proximity venues such as nightclubs, soft play, indoor gyms, swimming pools and spas will have to wait longer and remain closed for now. Taskforces are being established to help them become COVID secure. Indoor facilities for sports will remain closed.
The impact of the crisis on consumer confidence is an extremely important consideration for all businesses. In order to help hospitality businesses restore consumer confidence some new certification marks are being launched. Visit Britain is launching a free to join ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and the AA is launching a ‘Covid Confident’ mark.
To obtain the ‘We’re Good To Go’ mark businesses must complete a self-assessment online including a check-list confirming they have put the necessary processes in place, before receiving certification and the ‘We’re Good To Go’ mark for display in their premises and online. Alongside the industry standard, Visit Britain has launched a ‘Know Before You Go’ public information campaign to support tourism in England as businesses start to re-open by empowering consumers to inform themselves before booking a trip.
There is no doubt it will be a steep learning curve for businesses and a very different experience in some cases for customers. Giving your contact details, sitting behind Perspex screens, social distancing police in the beer garden and one-in one-out queues at the loo may hit harder than we expect. However, the sector has shown great resilience to weather the storm so far and we expect it to come out fighting again on 4th July.