Coronavirus and our community

Published 17 March 2020

Last updated 25 March

This is an incredibly challenging and turbulent time for the hospitality industry, as restaurants, hotels, theatres, and bars suffer the consequences of coronavirus. We will continue to update this article with relevant information and developments as they happen.

On Friday 20 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered pubs, restaurants, cafés, theatres and gyms to shut to tackle coronavirus. Johnson commented “For now, at least physically, we need to keep people apart.” Venues will still be allowed to offer takeaway and delivery services.

Subsequently on Monday 24 March, the Prime Minister announced even tighter new restrictions, insisting people are only allowed to leave their homes for a few specific reasons, including shopping for basic necessities and one form of exercise a day.

Providing some relief to hospitality businesses, also on 20 March the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a job retention scheme. According to gov.uk, “HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month”, which will be set up in the coming weeks. The scheme will be in place for an initial period of three months and all UK businesses are eligible. For further details and to apply, visit the gov.uk website here.

The government are also deferring VAT payment for 3 months until 30 June 2020 and extended moratorium on lease forfeiture and debt enforcement to commercial tenants.

These measures add to those the Chancellor announced on Tuesday 17 March:

  • Businesses to have access to government backed loans totalling £330bn available from next week
  • The extension of the 12-month business rates relief to all hospitality companies
  • Loans of up to £5m available instead of £1.2m, with no interest for the first six months
  • The £3,000 cash grant for 700,000 small businesses in the Budget has been increased to £10,000
  • Pubs and restaurants allowed to be turned into takeaways without a planning application
  • Providing £25,000 grants to hospitality businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000

We are yet to fully comprehend the details of the loans for the government, with many saying they should be grants instead.

As the third largest industry in the UK with over three million employees, contributing £130bn a year to the economy according to UK Hospitality, the industry needs immediate practical and financial support and we can join forces to be heard.

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