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Fri 14th Aug 2020 - Update: Bowling alleys to reopen in England, Wales makes collecting contact details mandatory
Bowling alleys to reopen in England tomorrow after delay but nightclubs remain shut: Bowling alleys and casinos will be allowed to reopen in England from tomorrow (Saturday, 15 August) as the government resumes its easing of lock-down restrictions, but nightclubs will remain shut. Socially distanced audiences will be allowed back into indoor venues, while wedding receptions of up to 30 people will also be permitted. Skating rinks and indoor play areas will be allowed to open their doors for the first time since the lock-down was imposed. Last month, Boris Johnson called a press conference to announce he was “squeezing the brake” on the reopening of the economy and society in order “to protect those we love”. The lock-down restrictions were due to be eased on 1 August, but a spike in coronavirus cases at the time resulted in them being paused for two weeks. From Saturday audiences will be able to return to indoor theatre performances and music venues in England, so long as they stick to social distancing measures. Under new government guidelines, venues will have to operate at a reduced capacity and limit ticket sales to ensure distancing can be maintained inside. Those on stage will also have to keep to social distancing rules. The government said it will resume plans to pilot a small number of sporting events in order to test the safe return of larger crowds. This will begin with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. If venues are able to successfully keep fans socially distanced, sports arenas could reopen to supporters from 1 October. But nightclubs and dance halls will remain closed. Earlier this week sector bosses and UKHospitality called on the government to urgently provide details of a roadmap for reopening the UK’s nightclubs, which are “less than one month away from a potentially make or break period”.

Welsh government makes it mandatory for pubs and restaurants to collect customer details: First minister Mark Drakeford has warned pubs and other hospitality businesses in Wales if they fail to take contact details of customers they face being closed under new rules. Amendments to the regulations will come into force next week to make it obligatory for hospitality businesses and other high-risk settings to collect contact details of customers. Drakeford said: “Collecting this information is essential for Wales’ test trace protect strategy for testing the general public and preventing the spread of coronavirus. Placing this in the regulations will make it clear to managers of premises and to customers that collecting information of this sort is a requirement, not an option. There are indications from other parts of the UK where pubs opened earlier than Wales that outbreaks have been linked to those places. If we are to avoid introducing local lock-down measures that could require the whole sector to close, it is vital we can quickly respond to any outbreaks. Providing our contact details when attending these premises will mean people can be contacted quickly by our Test Trace Protect teams if they may have been exposed to coronavirus. Only by us all doing our part and taking personal responsibility for our actions can we continue to tackle the scourge of coronavirus. While many businesses are being careful to collect contact details, there are too many reports of this not happening. As a result, we will be bringing in new regulations next week to make this compulsory.” Welsh law requires measures to be taken to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on these premises. This includes ensuring people maintain a two-metre distance where possible and taking other measures to avoid close interaction such as screens and improving hygiene. Information also has to be provided to customers and staff to help them understand what they need to do in order to stay safe on the premises. The Welsh government recently strengthened the powers local authorities have to enforce the regulations. This enables enforcement officers to issue a Premises Improvement Notice (PIN) to highlight breaches and specify measures that need be taken on premises to comply with the law. Where a PIN is not complied with, or if there is a serious breach, premises can be closed. Where notices are issued signs will be displayed in a prominent place to inform people.
Hawthorn Leisure reports ‘solid’ trading since lifting of lock-down: Hawthorn Leisure, the pub operations arm of NewRiver, has reported solid trading since lock-down restrictions were eased with like-for-like volumes down only 15% in its leased and tenanted estate and like-for-like sales down only 13% in its operator managed portfolio compared with last year. Ahead of NewRiver’s annual general meeting today (Friday, 14 August), the company also said since April it had sold 13 pubs, leaving it with about 700. It stated: “More than 90% of our community pubs in England, Scotland and Wales are now open and trading, following the easing of restrictions. Our portfolio is benefiting from the community and suburban locations of our pubs, which benefit from consumers spending locally; the wet-led nature of our portfolio and the lower fixed costs associated with running a wet-led business; the fact 86% of our pubs were invested in during lock-down, with our partners and tenants using government support and their own capital to improve the standards of the pub with a particular focus on outdoor space investments, customer safety and customer hospitality; more than 70% of our pubs having outdoor space, with many of these performing in line with pre-covid-19 levels; and the significant goodwill that has been generated from the hands-on engagement of our team, and the active programme of support we have provided to our partners and tenants during lock-down. The liquidity and alternative use value of pubs is evidenced by the fact that, since 1 April 2020, we have sold 13 pubs, generating £3.9m in proceeds, and one convenience store, generating £1.2m.”

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