Government introduces new COVID-19 operating regulations for the hospitality sector
On Monday 21 September, the UK’s chief medical officers announced that the nations COVID-19 cases are on the rise again and advised that our coronavirus alert level would be upgraded from 3 to 4. Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance warned we could face reaching 50,000 COVID-19 cases a day by mid-October if serious action is not taken to curb the rapid increase.
In light of this, yesterday Boris Johnson announced new operating regulations for hospitality businesses across England, including the introduction of a curfew amongst other restrictions, which begin on Thursday 24 September and may be in place for up to six months.
The new rules are as follows:
- Pubs, restaurants, and bars across the country will be subject to close each night at 10pm
- Venues must operate via table service only
- Staff and customers will be required to wear a face covering unless they are seated
- Bookings will be limited to a maximum of six people
The government believes that these new regulations, in particular the limit on opening hours, will achieve the maximum reduction in the R number – which measures the growth speed of the virus – whilst causing the minimum damage to the economy, lives and wellbeing of the nation.
The announcement brings with it many concerns for an already battered sector. Limited opening hours will prove challenging for many operators who are only just beginning to get back on their feet, following forced business closures during lockdown – the nightclub and late-night sectors in particular who continue to face no clear guidance as to when they will be able to reopen.
Stephen Owens, Managing Director of Pubs & Restaurants at Christie & Co comments, “Whilst the new rules are disappointing, they come as no surprise following the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. We are grateful that businesses are still allowed to operate whilst the government tries to tackle the virus surge and we hope the new rules are only temporary measures.”
We share the concerns of the sector and will be closely monitoring further announcements from the government.
For more information visit the following key trade body websites.
UK Hospitality: https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/Coronavirus
British Institute of Innkeeping (BII): https://www.bii.org/
Please get in touch if we can be of any support to your business at this time.
Stephen Owens FRICS MCIArb
Managing Director – Pubs & Restaurants