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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 29th May 2020 - Government tries to break rent stalemate with new code of practice
Government tries to break rent stalemate with new code of practice: The government is working with businesses and trade associations to publish a code of practice to provide them with clarity and reassurance over rent payments. It said the code, which it plans to publish prior to the next quarterly rent payment date next month, will help guide and encourage all parties to work together to protect viable businesses and ensure a swift recovery. A working group has been established by the government with the commercial rental sector to develop a code that encourages “fair and transparent discussions between landlords and tenants over rental payments during the coronavirus pandemic and guidance on rent arrear payments and treatment of sub-letter and suppliers”. The government said the code would enable collaboration and co-operation within the sector and help ensure “no one part of the chain shoulders the full burden of payment”. It said the group would also seek to involve wider business input through its sector members to ensure a greater number are consulted and able to share their views. The code will be temporary in nature and the government said it will explore options to make it mandatory if necessary. Ahead of the June payment day, the government said all the main commercial lenders would be in contact with their major commercial landlord borrowers to identify concerns they have and provide support where appropriate. The government said these measures do not account to a rental holiday but allows “breathing space for tenants facing significantly reduced income due to the closures measures and current economic circumstances”. It said: “Rent is still owed, and those tenants who are able to pay some or all of their rent are expected to do so.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “A code of conduct is a significant step in unlocking the current impasse in the commercial property market. Now is the time for all stakeholders to come to the table and broker an agreement.  Hospitality businesses have seen revenues all but dry up since March, so government intervention is desperately needed – with a sustainable financial plan in place. Our sector needs enforceable measures in place, so that the burden currently borne by operators is shared more equitably. This code could be pivotal in protecting communities and high streets from mass closures and job losses.”

Safestay outlines reopening plans: Strangers will not be sharing hostel bedrooms, London-headquartered hostel operator Safestay has said as it outlined reopening plans. The operator has had all of its sites temporarily closed since 1 April 1 due to coronavirus, including its London hostels in Elephant & Castle and Holland Park. Safestay said: “Under the reopening plan there will be protective changes introduced to check-in, foodservice, cleaning rotas and the temporary closure of common spaces with no shared rooms, and instead rooms will be sold to individuals or groups known to each other.” It outlined further details on its initial plans for when lock-downs ease. Reopening will be staggered over the course of 2020, subject to the restrictions in each market and look to initially focus on just domestic customers while international travel remains limited. Check-in will be completed via WhatsApp, hand sanitiser gel, masks and gloves will be made available, common rooms including the restaurant areas will be closed and breakfast will instead be served in boxes. Safestay gave the update as it reported total revenues increased by 26% to £18.4m for the year ending 31 December 2019 , with like-for-like sales up 7%. The company added seven hostels to its portfolio during the year, taking it to 20. Chairman Larry Lipman said the company made a good start to trading in 2020, and added “the sudden spread of coronavirus meant we have had to adapt quickly to an unexpected phase”. He added: “Our focus is on ensuring the safety of our guests, initially targeting the domestic markets in each country, and then looking to gradually return to normal trading patterns.”

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