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Wed 20th May 2020 - Update: UKHospitality unveils proposed covid secure guidelines, pub beer gardens could reopen in July
UKHospitality unveils proposed covid secure guidelines for sector to government to help industry restart: Condiments would be removed from tables and drinkers stopped from jostling at the bar under plans aimed at allowing hospitality firms to in July. The hotel buffet could also be stopped, while tips will become digital to minimise the handling of notes which could harbour covid-19. The measures are revealed in a draft working 75-page document set to be submitted to ministers by UKHospitality and offer a first glimpse into a new socially distanced world of eating and drinking when Britain reopens. The trade body warned the industry should not be restricted by a one-size-fits-all approach and urged governments in Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff to be flexible. Hospitality businesses have been told they could reopen as early as 4 July if able to do so safely. The submission includes tailored guidelines for individual businesses such as pubs, restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, nightclubs and holiday parks. People visiting restaurants and pubs for food should expect reduced menus as businesses are encouraged to keep kitchen staff away from each other. In hotels, self-service buffets should be prevented “as far as possible”, according to the advice, while individually wrapped condiments and sauces should be given on request. Guests using hotel facilities such as gyms, spas and pools could be encouraged to change in their hotel room to avoid overcrowding of changing rooms. Gyms should remove treadmills and other equipment to ensure a safe distance between visitors, the draft guidelines stated. Pubs could see an end to customers jostling to get their order in at the bar, with advice encouraging table service where possible. Pub staff should bring cutlery, condiments and salt and pepper shakers to customers when food is served rather than laying tables in advance. Staff may also need to patrol pub gardens to prevent large groups from gathering , the advice said. Meanwhile, tipping restaurant waiters and hotel porters with cash could end as businesses have been encouraged to go contactless wherever possible. Amusement parks and other family entertainment sites may be forced to cancel character shows, concerts and end of day parades to ensure compliance with potential social distancing rules. UKHospitality is urging the government to endorse the guidelines to ensure businesses could prepare for reopening from 4 July as part of its #FAIR4Hospitality campaign launched today (Wednesday, 20 May).

Government raises prospect of pub beer gardens reopening in July: Government ministers have raised the prospect some pubs with outside space could reopen in July. Environment secretary George Eustice said the government was in discussions with the industry to see what measures may be possible to allow them to reopen. However, any opening is likely to be heavily restricted and limited at first to large venues with access to outside space, reports The Times. Eustice said: “We are already working with the hospitality and pub sector to identify what social distancing measures they might be able to put in place to make that work. As the prime minister has outlined, we intend the hospitality sector, including pubs, would be able to tentatively start gradually opening, hopefully during the month of July – subject to the epidemiology supporting such a move.” The push to allow some pubs to reopen comes after warnings from the British Beer & Pub Association that a long-term shutdown would have a devastating impact on an industry already in decline. The sector has also had to dispose of the equivalent of 70 million pints of beer that had gone stale. On Monday (18 May), pub operators called on the government to halve the two-metre social distancing rule to make business viable when they are allowed to reopen. Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny said the UK rules went “above and beyond” World Heath Organisation guidelines that advises people to “maintain at least one-metre distance”. Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, told The Financial Times keeping two metres apart would be “profoundly challenging” and that many pubs would stay closed. When prime minister Boris Johnson published the road map for reopening the economy he set 4 July as the earliest possible date for the reopening of businesses including pubs. However, Downing Street sources suggested pubs would be among the last to reopen because of the risk of transmission.

BCC warns companies ‘will be unable’ to fulfil social distancing: Almost half of UK businesses (45%) said they will only partially be able to reopen, with social distancing guidelines set to cause problems, a survey has shown. The survey, from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), also found 10% of firms fear they will struggle to implement social distancing measures when they are allowed to reopen. Just 37% of firms said they can fully restart operations by implementing government guidance, which encourages social distancing and extra cleaning among numerous other measures. The survey also found 85% of UK firms have received money from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, highlighting the extent to which companies are relying on the government for their survival. The government has produced guidelines for many different types of workplace on how to reopen safely, with restaurants and pubs not opening until at least 4 July. BCC director general Adam Marshall said: “Some sectors still require greater clarity from the government on when and how they will be allowed to do so. This is particularly the case for hospitality and leisure companies.”

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