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Mon 11th May 2020 - Sector gives mixed response to Boris Johnson’s re-opening plan
Sector gives mixed response to Boris Johnson’s re-opening plan: The sector has given a mixed response to PM Boris Johnson’s plan to re-open the UK economy, which suggested “at least some” of the hospitality sector might be able to re-open by I July, with conditions and subject to scientific advice. Johnson was not specific about which hospitality venues could reopen but it is understood that it means a return for cafes and restaurants with outdoor space that can enforce social distancing, rather than pubs, even ones with beer gardens. Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “The industry was looking for a glimmer of hope today, a date to plan to and further financial support reassured, but it looks like we have more weeks of uncertainty ahead of us. With insufficient clarity as to when pubs will reopen, our sector remains in limbo and facing severe uncertainty and financial devastation. If government plans to keep pubs closed until the final phase of release, as rumoured, this would make pubs first in and last out of lockdown. Despite this, the government hasn’t outlined any specific additional financial support for pubs to assure and help them through the extended lockdown hardship they face. We understand that pubs should only open when safe to do so, but extending the lockdown without offering additional support will be devastating. Our own research shows that 40% of Britain’s pubs won’t survive beyond September with the current level of financial support on offer from the government. That’s almost 19,000 pubs that won’t reopen. The government must understand that the current financial support they are providing, although welcome, does not go anywhere near enough to cover pub’s costs through an extended lockdown. This is before we even consider an eventual reopening inevitably with vastly reduced revenue due to stringent social distancing restrictions in place. Without this specific additional financial support, the social hubs and heart of communities in many towns, villages and cities across the UK will be lost forever – resulting in immeasurable damage to the wellbeing of our nation. Our clear and urgent ask to the government is that they recognise the real jeopardy facing the great British pub and put in place targeted measures now to save it, or risk losing local pubs forever.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “The Prime Minister gave us a sense of the shape of his plan and the journey ahead. Much detail will follow but the focus on saving lives, and saving livelihoods, is an important and positive basis for progress. Mr Johnson was explicit about his commitment to support those workers whose businesses are not able to return soon, and we remain committed to continuing our dialogue with the government to achieve that. We have been calling for a more flexible, extended furlough system and today’s statement appears to leave the door open for that. UKHospitality has already been working up protocols for implementation in different parts of the sector, to allow venues to confidently open their doors when it is safe to do so. This is very much consistent with the approach of ‘covid secure’ standards that the Prime Minister referenced. He recognised in his statement that some parts of business will be able to open and others won’t – we will work to ensure that the government is well-placed to support those in hospitality that need longer, as well as on enabling those who are able to return.” Nick Mackenzie, Greene King chief executive, said: “We of course want to welcome back customers to our pubs as soon as we can, but the impact on our 38,000 people and our commitment to customer safety are our primary concerns. We are keen to avoid a false start and the support that the government has provided during the lockdown will also be needed during the recovery phase as maintaining social distancing will have a significant impact on pubs. We are working closely with our people and our tenants to put in place a reopening strategy that adheres closely to government guidance so that when we do open our doors again, it is with robust safety and hygiene measures in place for our team and customers.” James Calder, SIBA chief executive said: “The Prime Minister’s statement this evening gave us a starting point and a methodology for how we will come out of lockdown. We need to see the detail of which sectors are included within ‘step three’ but at this stage it looks like pubs and taprooms will follow restaurants, cinemas and cafes in July but if and only if we maintain control of the virus. That may mean that the partial awakening of our sector is still at least eight to 12 weeks away. Whilst we thank the Prime Minister for recognising our sector directly in both his speech and in government social media, eight to 12 weeks is still a huge amount of time. In that intervening period our sector requires continued direct support from government to ensure that the 1 million jobs in pubs, brewing and supply chain are preserved. This is a marathon, not a sprint and we continue to be at the core of discussions with government about how our heritage, our culture and our right to have a good pint in a good pub is maintained for the long term. We will of course not put any pressure on government to open pubs and taprooms ahead of when it is safe to do so. But we will put pressure where it is needed to ensure our sector has a fighting chance of survival.”

Chipotle reopens three UK sites: Chipotle reopened three of its UK sites for delivery only over the weekend. The company said that after “significant preparation and trialling our new safety protocols”, it had reopened its Baker Street and Islington sites, plus its delivery-only kitchen in Battersea. Steps it has put in place include: Team members only coming back to work if they feel safe, tamper-evident bags, contactless delivery and app pick-up at restaurant, daily wellness checks for its teams including temperature taking, face masks worn by teams at all times, and cooking food in small batches throughout the day for freshness and safety.

Cuomo extends eviction moratorium, promises landlord relief: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the moratorium on residential and commercial evictions – for non-payment of rent due to covid-19 – will last through to 20 August. Cuomo also announced a ban on fees for late or missed rent payments during the moratorium, as well as the option for tenants to tap into their security deposits to pay rent. He said he was unsure if the moratorium would be extended beyond August. Cuomo also indicated that the state is working on getting relief for the landlords from the banks. While Cuomo stressed the importance of protecting tenants as “most vulnerable”, property owners were also in mind, he said. “I get it, there’s a trade off,” Cuomo said. “We’re working on relief from the banks for the landlords also and there are programs that the federal government and the state is doing to make sure those banks get relief so they don’t have to do any foreclosures.” As part of the larger awareness around the need for rent forgiveness, two New York lawmakers are attempting to have a bailout for landlords as a result of potential cancellations of rent. Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Grace Meng have called for the creation of a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fund that would reimburse landlords for the cost of cancelling rent in the next stimulus package as the pandemic progresses and prevents many from going to work.

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