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Wed 17th Feb 2021 - Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open in May under government roadmap
Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open in May under government roadmap – The Daily Mail: Leisure businesses may not return to ‘broadly normal’ until July under a roadmap out of lockdown, The Daily Mail has reported. The newspaper stated: “The blueprint being discussed by ministers and industry leaders would allow restrictions to be eased only at four-weekly intervals. The gradual approach means traders will have to wait until at least Easter – early April – for a limited restart. This is likely to include the reopening of holiday lets and larger hotels, with dining rooms still closed. Sports such as golf and tennis could resume. Pubs, bars and restaurants will have to wait until early May under the plans, with a maximum of two households allowed to sit together indoors and the rule of six applying outside. The next stage, in early June, would see the rules for pubs and restaurants relaxed with the rule of six extended indoors. The hospitality and domestic holiday industries could be allowed to return to normal in July – with social distancing. It comes as the government is set to unveil a new slogan and the Prime Minister plans to send testing kits to millions of homes and businesses as lockdown is eased.’Are you ready? Get testing. Go’ will reportedly be a new campaign launched ahead of the reopening of schools next month. Ministers will not make a final decision on the roadmap timetable until this weekend when they are presented with the latest data on the spread of the virus. Boris Johnson will unveil the plan on Monday. But the blueprint is the most detailed outline of the government’s thinking so far. It appears to confirm that – contrary to the demands of some Tory MPs – the Prime Minister is determined to be cautious, with plenty of ‘headroom’ to adjust to any resurgence of the virus. The fact that the rule of six and social distancing are expected to remain in force until well into the summer indicates the extent of the worries over new mutations. The Mail can also reveal that office staff are expected to be told to keep working from home when the Prime Minister unveils his roadmap. He is not expected to set a firm date for when employees should return to their desks, meaning that the ‘work from home if you can’ message will continue for the foreseeable future. The rapid roll-out of the vaccine has boosted optimism that Mr Johnson will announce that the long winter lockdown can be lifted sooner than expected. It was claimed yesterday that the NHS will receive enough vaccine doses to jab everyone over 50, or 32 million people, by the end of March – a full month ahead of schedule. Almost one in four Britons has now had at least one jab and experts yesterday said the UK’s vaccination programme was reducing coronavirus deaths among the over-80s. However, the blueprint revealed by the Mail today is likely to be seen as more cautious than many in the hospitality and leisure sector were asking for. They had warned that businesses would go under unless they were allowed to get going again from the Easter weekend. The new route map, the most detailed outline of the government’s thinking so far, lays out how vast swathes of the UK economy will reopen. As already widely reported, schools will reopen from 8 March, along with an easing of the restrictions on outdoor exercise and meeting others outdoors, followed by the reopening of non-essential shops at the end of March, or at the start of April at the latest. Under plans discussed with industry figures, staycations in self-catered holiday lets, second homes or larger hotels would return in the first half of April, potentially just after Easter. Outdoor leisure, such as theme parks, public gardens and zoos, and outdoor sports such as golf, open air gyms and tennis would get the go-ahead at the same time. This ‘soft opening’ of the economy would then be followed with a loosening of restrictions every four weeks if case numbers and hospital admissions continued to fall. An industry source said: ‘The suggestion is that we would broadly go back to normal in late June or July.’Other insiders believe decisions could be taken at three-week intervals, as this is the time that it takes for the data to demonstrate the effect of the lockdown loosening.” Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph has reported lockdown is unlikely to be eased significantly until daily covid cases are in the hundreds, compared with more than 10,000 a day now. The newspaper stated: “Boris Johnson is due to publish a roadmap out of the restrictions next week, beginning with the reopening of schools from March 8. But the plan is unlikely to commit to a clear timetable for the coming months, instead promising a series of reviews which would see the reopening of shops, pubs and restaurants deferred until cases reach a low not seen since August. Covid cases have fallen significantly in recent weeks and could reach less than 1,000 a day by early April if they continue to decline at the current rate. However, this is likely to be delayed by the impact of the return of schools. A senior Whitehall source said: “For any significant relaxation of lockdown, household mixing and reopening pubs, case numbers have to be in the hundreds, not thousands.” The numbers are coming down quite fast, but the plan is likely to be high level and set out the tests that have to be met for restrictions to be released. There is real reluctance about committing to specific dates without knowing what the case numbers are doing.”

M&B extends joint venture deal with Ego Restaurants: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has reached agreement with chief executive James Horler and the other shareholders of 3Sixty Restaurants to vary arrangements relating to their joint venture for the development of the Ego Restaurants business. The Ego business operates 23 Mediterranean-style family restaurants across the UK. The company stated: “In August 2018, (M&B) acquired from an exiting shareholder a 40% stake in 3Sixty for initial cash consideration of approx. £4m. At the same time, (M&B) entered into a joint venture agreement with the other 3Sixty shareholders (the majority shareholders) for the development of the Ego business. The joint venture arrangements involve certain of (M&B’s) other subsidiaries leasing sites to 3Sixty (at market rents) for conversion to the Ego Restaurants brand. Pursuant to certain put and call option arrangements entered into at the time the joint venture arrangements were put in place, (M&B) could acquire the remaining 60% interest in 3Sixty (the majority shares) from the majority shareholders in August 2021. Following discussions in recent weeks, it was agreed that it was in the interests of all parties for the joint venture arrangements to continue for a further period. Subsequently, on 22 January 2021 (M&B) and the Majority Shareholders agreed to an extension of the joint venture arrangements and the variation of the option arrangements such that the options shall become exercisable on or after 1 April 2023. The maximum amount payable by the subsidiary for the majority shares, which is to be calculated by reference to the profitability of the Ego Business in the period of 12 months prior to the date of the exercise of the relevant option, will be capped at £40m. The value of 3Sixty’s gross assets as at 31 March 2019 was £9m. For the year ended 31 March 2019, 3Sixty made an operating loss of £750k. As at the date of this announcement, 13 sites were leased to 3Sixty pursuant to the joint venture arrangements.”

CGA – meat-free menus set for further growth: Consumers’ focus on health during the covid-19 pandemic is likely to make vegetarian and vegan dishes more prominent on menus than ever when the hospitality industry is able to open again, CGA’s MealMetrics service reveals. A record number of 125,000 people signing up to the ‘Veganuary’ campaign indicates that the pandemic has prompted many people to adopt meat-free diets. CGA’s MealMetrics showed that the number of food pubs offering vegetarian and vegan burgers jumped from 70% ahead of the UK’s first national lockdown to more than 80% by October 2020 – and with an average meal price of £9.90, these items have frequently provided good margins. CGA’s separate BrandTrack research meanwhile found that a quarter (25%) of consumers in Britain were seeking to reduce their meat consumption, adding to the 6% of people already following meat-free diets. Increasing awareness of the environmental impacts of meat production has added to interest in vegetarian and vegan diets. CGA’s client director Fiona Speakman said: “The rapid growth in vegetarian and vegan diets is a big opportunity for pubs, restaurants and the foodservice sector. Eating habits evolve fast and the pandemic has brought even more nuances to consumers’ behaviour, so it is vital for all businesses to stay right on top of changing choices for when the market reopens.”

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