We have been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation with regards to COVID-19. As you take measures to ensure the wellbeing of your staff and guests, and continue providing hospitality in a time of huge uncertainty, know that Resy is here to support you. These are challenging times, and we are committed to standing by you during this time of crisis. We will be presenting guidance that we have aggregated across the industry.
The original post was modified as of 26 May at 13:26 to reflect new updates.
- Reopening the Economy
- Working safely during COVID-19
- The UK Government's Economic Measures
- Bringing in Revenue
- Communicate With Your Guests
Reopening the Economy
- Phase 1: people being urged to return to work if they can - but avoiding public transport. This would be followed by more freedom for the public to go and exercise from 13 May within England.
- Phase 2 would see the opening of more shops and primary schools - but not earlier than 1 June
- Phase 3 could see the opening up of some parts of the hospitality industry but not before early July, provided they are COVID-19 Secure and enforce social distancing.
Face coverings have been recommended in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible, such as on public transport or in some shops. Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. A face covering does not equate to a face-mask such as surgical masks or respirators which are used as part of personal protective equipment (PPE) by healthcare and other workers. PPE supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it. It is important to properly use face-coverings and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.
Northern Ireland: In the Pathway to Recovery announced 12 May 2020, a five-phase blueprint was announced but with no timeframe included.
Currently food and other permitted retail activity can only function using takeaway, collection and/or delivery. Beginning Monday 18 May, large outdoor based retail (i.e. garden centres) and associated cafes and restaurants can open though only with takeaway/collection. Once in Stage 5, hospitality retail (restaurants, cafes and pubs) can open, subject to risk assessment, on a limited basis to start with.
Currently in Scotland,, people can exercise outdoors as often and for as long as they want whilst following social distancing guidelines.
The next review date is 28 May, and is legally required to be conducted every 3 weeks. Intention is to move to Phase 1 in the Route Map for Relaxation from 28 May 2020. Not necessarily every Phase 1 is measure will be instituted on 28 May 2020.
Hygiene and Health Protections for Phase 1-3: Physical distancing requirements in place. Frequent hand washing and hygiene measures for all. Cough etiquette is maintained. Face coverings in enclosed public spaces, including public transport.
Phase 1: Gradual re-opening of drive through food outlets. Per the First Minister "We will no longer discourage take-away and drive-through food outlets from reopening, as long as they apply safe physical distancing." Garden centres and plant nurseries can reopen with physical distancing. Associated cafes should not reopen at this stage except for takeaway.
Phase 2: Outdoor markets with physical distancing, hygiene measures and controls on numbers of people within market. Pubs and restaurants can open outdoor spaces with physical distancing and increased hygiene routines.
Phase 3: Pubs and restaurants can open in indoor spaces with physical distancing and increased hygiene routines.
Phase 4: All open with improved public health advice. During phase 4, physical distancing requirements to be updated on scientific advice. Frequent handwashing, hygiene measures and cough etiquette for all remains. Face coverings may be advised in enclosed public spaces, including public transport.
Wales: a new traffic light system was announced 15 May 2020. Under new guidance restaurants and pubs can open with social distancing when the "Working or running a business" segment is in the green zone.
Working Safely During COVID-19
Every business needs to make sure their risk assessment addresses the risks of COVID-19 and ascertain what risks reasonably can and cannot be eliminated related to COVID-19. If you have not already done so, you should carry out an assessment of the risks posed by COVID-19 in your workplace as soon as possible including a review of statutory test certifications. There are interactive tools available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to assist in informing your decisions and identifying sensible measures to control the risk in your workplace.
Food businesses which are restarting, or have made changes (i.e. adding delivery) should review and, where necessary, update their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures or HACCP-based Food Safety Management System (i.e. Safer food, better business (SFBB) packs or Safe Catering in Northern Ireland). Check that you have not introduced any additional hazards which you are not controlling. You must document any changes made and the start-up checks you undertake.
For more information, please refer to the FSA Reopening Checklist for food businesses.
Ensuring staff safety
Employers have a duty to consult their staff on health and safety by conducting an in-depth risk assessment with input from your team and anyone else sharing the workplace, including suppliers. Through this partnership, not only can it better identify risks or concerns, but also will enable you to build a trusting partnership with your team during the development and review of new health and safety practises as well as feeling safe and supported when returning to work.
If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (the Government expects all businesses with over 50 workers to do so).
- Establish a daily check-in system: ask staff to disclose their own health or health of a member of their household when they come to work
- Consider training your staff on changes to existing procedures, recipes and hygiene measures.
- Have a designated staff member be the COVID Champion who is responsible for hourly checks for front-of-house separation, the correct use of PPE and other agreed upon controls
- Developing communication and training materials for workers prior to returning to site, especially around new procedures for arrival at work
- Asking staff to wash hands before handling plates and takeaway boxes.
- Putting teams into shifts to restrict the number of workers interacting with each other.
- Encouraging increased hand washing and introducing more hand washing facilities for workers handling goods and merchandise, or providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical
- Minimising contact between back of house and front of house staff (minimising time FOH spend in the kitchen), delivery riders (i.e. having designated collection zones)
- Asking who should go to work?
- Consider who is essential to be on site
- Planning for the minimum number of people on the premises to operate safely and effectively
- Assessing if any of your team are at higher risk
- Determining if any of your team who are advised to stay at home do not physically come to work
- Shifts: reduce number of contacts each staff member has
- where contact is unavoidable, occurs between the same people
- Work Travel (i.e. between sites)
- Cleaning shared vehicles between shifts or on handover
- Maintaining fixed travel partners
- Implementing procedures to minimise person-to-person contact when visiting other sites
Sanitation & hygiene
- Enhancing sanitation for busy areas and high frequency touch points (i.e. light switches & handles); including setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible. Increasing the frequency of hand-washing and surface cleaning
- Providing regular, clear and consistent reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards and improve understanding and consistency of ways of working
- Providing hand-sanitising stations at entry and exit points, in multiple locations in addition to washrooms
- Introducing enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day.
- Cleaning procedures for goods and merchandise entering the site and shared equipment
- Enhanced handling procedures of laundry to achieve disinfection and prevent potential contamination of surrounding surfaces, to prevent raising dust or dispersing the virus; if you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of coronavirus, refer to this specific guidance
- Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products.
- Work out what needs cleaning or disinfecting every day, or more than once a day, and what needs cleaning less frequently. Your schedule should show:
- what needs to be cleaned and how often it needs to be done
- what needs to be disinfected and how often it needs to be done
- how the cleaning/disinfecting should be done
- what cleaning products should be used, how to use them and how to store them
- Having bins for staff clothes/bags, requesting staff change into uniforms on site using appropriate changing areas where social distancing and hygiene can be met; and arranging for uniforms to be washed instead of by individual staff members at home
- Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.
- Detergents clean the surface and remove grease, but they do not kill bacteria and viruses. (FSA Cleaning Effectively)
- Disinfectants kill bacteria and viruses, and should be used on a visibly clean surface. They do not work effectively if the surface is covered in grease or visible dirt. It is also important that you leave the product on the surface for the time specified in the instructions.
- Disinfection products should meet the BS EN standards
- Sanitisers can be used as the first step in a 2-stage process.
- Stage 1: to remove dirt, food or grease
- Stage 2: Re-apply to the visibly clean surface and leave for the required time to disinfect the surface.
- If the products routinely used are not available
- Seek approved, food-safe alternatives
- Both alcohol-based sanitisers/surface disinfectants (in concentrations of 70-80%) and common disinfectants based on ammonium compounds or chlorine (bleach), can be effective. They can be applied either as a combined detergent-disinfectant solution or when adopting a two-stage approach as a disinfectant following cleaning with a detergent. In either case, food contact surfaces should be washed down with water to prevent chemical contamination of food.
- If you use a domestic vehicle (or a non-food industry business vehicle) to transport groceries or food orders, our guidance for businesses that supply or produce food on the move provides more information about hygiene requirements and vehicle specifications.
- If vehicles or containers have been used for transporting anything other than food, effective cleaning is required between loads to avoid the risk of contamination.
Social distancing (2 meters)
- Must be maintained wherever possible, including arriving entrances and exits, in the premises, etc.
- Staggering arrival and departure times for staff to reduce crowding at entrances and exists
- Reviewing entry and exit routes for customers, visitors and contractors to minimise contact with other people.
- Evaluate the floorplan, see where congestion, "pinch points" occur and how to mitigate (i.e. one-way systems in stockrooms or around corners)
- Limiting access to premises for people waiting for or collecting takeaways. Setting out clear demarcation for 2m distances for customers queuing. Asking customers to wait in their cars.
- Adjusting put-away and replenishment rules to create space for social distancing. Where social distancing cannot be maintained, sufficient mitigation strategies should be designed and implemented.
- Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.
- Following government guidance on managing food preparation and food service areas.
- Allowing kitchen access to as few people as possible.
- Minimising interaction between kitchen staff and other workers, including when on breaks.
- Working back-to-back or side-to-side (rather than face-to-face)
- Spacing workstations 2m apart as much as possible, recognising the difficulty of moving equipment such as sinks, hobs and ovens. Consider cleanable panels to separate workstations in larger kitchens.
- Minimising access to walk-in pantries, fridges and freezers (i.e. only one person being able to access these areas at one point in time)
- Minimising contact at ‘handover’ points with other staff, such as when presenting food to serving staff and delivery drivers.
- Cleaning laminated menus or disposing of paper menus after each use.
- Wedging doors open, where appropriate (i.e. NOT fire doors)
- If still accepting cash, review how to minimise risk when handling
- Avoiding transmission from sharing pens and other objects.
- Encouraging contactless payments where possible.
- Where possible, providing paper towels in lieu of hand dryers in hand washing facilities.
- Minimising contact during exchange of documentation (electronically signed and exchanged documents)
- Considering methods to reduce frequency of deliveries (larger quantities, less often).
- Check procedures around the safe decanting and unwrapping of food
- Revising pick up and drop off collection points, procedures and signage
- Having single workers or same pairs of people load or unload deliveries
- Encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice
- When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually use is not beneficial.
- Wearing a face covering is optional. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting them on and taking them off.
- when wearing a face covering, avoid touching it or your face, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
- change face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
- change and wash your face covering daily
- continue to wash your hands regularly
- If gloves are used, they should be changed as often as you would wash hands and you must wash your hands when changing or removing gloves. Gloves must be changed after carrying out non-food related activities (i.e. opening and closing doors by hand, handling money and emptying bins). Food workers should avoid touching their mouth and eyes when wearing gloves.
- The COVID-19 virus (and other viruses and bacteria) can contaminate gloves in the same way it gets onto hands
- If 2m social distancing may not be achievable, consider disposable gloves, disposable face coverings and disposable headwear.
The UK Government’s Economic Measures
1. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Portal (CJRS)
The goal of the scheme is to help employers retain their current staff and re-recruit staff who were previously laid off or made redundant due to severe revenue impacts from coronavirus. The Government will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March. The scheme is live and has been extended through 31 October 2020 (link to online portal is above). Payments by the HMRC will be made within 6 working days of the claim being filed. The grants will cover 80% of the monthly salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month, plus Employer National Insurance Contribution (NIC) and minimum pension contribution. This scheme is an overlay on existing employment contract arrangements.
There will be no changes to the programme until the end of July. For August, September and October the programme will continue but with more flexibility. Employers will be able to bring workers back part-time. However, employers will be required to make a contribution. Employees will continue to get the same support they do now - 80% of wages (12 May 2020 Update)
Don't forget to note or print-out of your claim reference number as there will not be a confirmation SMS or email provided.
*Should your team be looking for temporary work, take a look at opportunities on the Hospitality Redeployment Hub.
- The scheme is only for those not working, thus furloughed staff cannot be on reduced hours or pay nor may they perform any work for the business or it's associates. If there are business critical tasks, these must be past onto a non-furloughed employee. Furloughed workers include full time, part time, agency and zero/flexible hour contracts
- Sickness & Maternity/Parental leave: Furloughed workers to receive full parental leave entitlement: those planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate.
Notes on Process
- One claim can be submitted at least every 3 weeks (the minimum furlough period). The amount claimed will be in accordance with payroll amounts when payroll is run - for full and part time salaried employees, use the actual salary before tax as of 28 February 2020. Moving forward, claims can be made in line with normal payroll processing date and in advance of imminent payroll. Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings. Claims are made from the date the employee finishes work and starts furlough, or when they were written to confirming furlough status. The scheme can be accessed at any point during the initial 3 month period. You can make a decision about furloughing some staff now and add others as circumstances change.
- Tronc: “any tips, including those distributed through troncs” do not count in calculation of furlough pay. Only non-discretionary, contracted or obligated regular payments over and above salary may be included.
- Record decisions about who was offered furlough and write formally to those confirming agreed upon furlough proposals including any changes to their employment contract. These records must be maintained for 5 years. There is no requirement to have written agreement back from employees confirming agreement to furlough
- HMRC will retrospectively audit your claim so contemporaneous records must be maintained. Employees must be paid the full amount of the grant received for their gross pay. No deductions may be taken aside from income tax and student loan deductions.
2. Business rates have been abolished for one year for all hospitality businesses. Local authorities will apply the business rates holiday to your bills, no action is required by you.
In addition, "a revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by the impacts of coronavirus."
3. The Government will be deferring next quarter's VAT payment, with no payment from now until mid June. Business will "have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills."
4. The government is providing £25k cash grants available per business. The grant can be used to pay for quarterly rent payments due. To qualify the property must have rateable value between £15,000 - £51,0000 to be eligible for a grant of up to £25,000. Local authorities will be contacting eligible businesses directly.
A top up to the business grants funds scheme was announced 2 May 2020. This is a discretionary fund to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant fund scheme. Up to £617 million will be made available, confirmation regarding how much each local authority will be allocated is to be confirmed. The additional scheme is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property related costs. To qualify, business must be small, have under 50 employees and demonstrate a significant drop of income due to COVID-19 restriction measures.
There will be three levels of payments up to £25,000. Local authorities will have discretion as to payment amounts and which businesses will receive grants based upon local economic need.
5. Bounce Back Loan Scheme: Small firms are to get access to 100% taxpayer-backed loans. To qualify, the businesses has a turnover of up to £200,000 and will receive £2000-£50,000 within days of applying. The scheme began 4 May and requires filling in a two-page self-certification form online. The loan terms mean no capital or interest repayments will be due for one year. The government will pay the interest for the first 12 months as well as any fees. Furthermore, the government will work with lenders to agree to a low standardised level of interest for the remaining period of the loan.
6. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme of up to £5m to support any viable business with turnover of up to £45m. Interest payments and any lender-levied fees for businesses will be covered by the Government for an initial period of up to twelve months. This scheme is open and accepting applications.
- Government is taking additional steps to ensure that lenders have the confidence required to process applications quickly, including removing the per lender portfolio cap for the government guarantee, and changing the viability tests requirements to if the business was viable pre COVID-19.
- Lenders are not permitted to request personal guarantees on loans under £250,000.
- For loans over £250,000, personal guarantees will be limited to just 20% of any amount outstanding on the CBILS lending after any other recoveries from business assets. Lenders are prohibited from asking business owners to put their house on the line.
- Extending the CBILS to all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, not just those to secure regular commercial financing
- The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80%. The maximum loan size available under the scheme will be increased from £50 million to £200 million to help ensure large firms which do not qualify for the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) have enough finance to meet cashflow needs during the outbreak.
- The Government has extended to maximum loan size for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme to £200 million from 26 May. Firms borrowing more than £50 million will be subject to restrictions such as on senior pay, share buy-backs and dividend payments. Borrowers under CLBILS will be able to borrow up to 25% of turnover, up to a maximum of £200 million
7. £10k small business grant funding to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or rural rates relief.
8. Insurance: Per the Chancellor’s press conference on 17 March 2020, all businesses “which do have a policy that covers pandemics, the government’s action is sufficient and will allow businesses to make an insurance claim against their policy.”
Hospitality Insurance Group Action are offering to help review your business interruption insurance policy at no cost.
The FCA has set up a financial ombudsman service (email: complaint.info@financial-
9. 14 days statutory sick pay (SSP) refunded for businesses with less than 250 employees. Small and medium sized employers will be able to recover SSP payments via an online portal from 26 May. Employers with less than 250 employees will be able to apply to HMRC to recover costs of paying coronavirus related SSP (Guidance on making a claim)
10. Banks have offered liquidity to support businesses during this period of uncertainty. Refer to your bank’s COVID-19 page for more information
Government will temporarily ban the use of statutory demands made between 1 March till 30 June and winding up petitions presented from Monday 27 April, through to 30 June, where a company cannot pay its bills due to coronavirus. This will provide protection and void any demands served from 1 March - 30 June with possibility for extension. This measure will be included in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill.
Government is also laying secondary legislation to provide tenants with more breathing space to pay rent by preventing landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) unless they are owed 90 days of unpaid rent.
Across the country there are examples of landlords pledging to help businesses create workable solutions to meet their rent liabilities and "sustain businesses in temporary distress and the communities where they are invested." Some examples below: GOV.UK: Extra protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments
The London Property Alliance which represents 400 Central London Real Estate Companies, has recommended to all members "to help their tenants through short-term issues" to businesses be in a position to resume trade once the crisis is over. Landlords were asked to be flexible to requests for support and recommended to switch to monthly payments to resolve cashflow issues where possible. London Property Alliance Statement
The British Property Federation has urged any hospitality businesses in financial distress ahead of their first rent quarter day on 25 March 2020, to speak to their landlord as soon as possible. The commercial property sector is committed to supporting businesses who through no fault of their own are concerned about their rent liabilities. Support ranges from moving from quarterly to monthly rent payments, rent deferrals or payment holidays. British Property Federation Statement
In addition, some landlords are cancelling Q1 rent.
Bringing in Revenue
Pandemic Pivot Business Calculator
A 30-minute free tool to re-imagine your business over the coming months. The tool calculates your current business model’s viability considering social distancing and how new product offerings might affect your business economics. Together, you can evaluate sustainability and profitability between the two.
Transition to Delivery and/or Take-away
Restaurants: Food delivery and takeaway (including hot food) can remain operational.
The government has relaxed planning permissions to allow restaurants to operate as hot food take-aways for 12 months. (Press Release 17 March 2020). Businesses must tell their local authority when the new use begins and ends. The government has updated its guidance on takeaway procedures to now allow orders to be taken on-site. However, businesses should still encourage customers to order online, by app or phone. Should this not be possible, with social distancing controls in place, orders can be taken at the premises. The updated guidance imposes controls and restrictions such as staggered pick up and queue management.
Whether you’re considering adding delivery or take-away, re-tool your menu to produce foods which will still be delicious and safe both after reheating or withstanding long periods of storage, including freezing. From house-made charcuterie to pasta sets and ready meals, sell things which can be easily reheated so your guests can recreate their favourite dishes at home. Create meal plans and educate guests on how to prepare them with written instructions, which you can promote on social media channels.
Groceries & Wine
From some of the UK's best seafood at The Sea, The Sea to excellent baked goods at Darby's, restaurants are turning to grocery as an additional revenue stream. Ombra in addition to pasta kits, also offers Cacklebean eggs, multiple types of flour and pre-bottled Negronis. For meal kits, create written tips or online videos for your guests as how to finish their meals at home. A great example is Jose Pizarro's "How to Finish at Home" series. For wine, places such as Naughty Piglets in Brixton are offering excellent bottles for takeaway, deals on multiple bottles plus bagnums of rosé and whites from the excellent Le Grappin.
To avoid wastage, reach out to local authorities (food banks, hospitals, religious institutions, shelters etc) to check if you can supply them with excess foods.
See below for more inspiration of what restaurants are offering:
Gift Vouchers & Merchandise
Remind your guests, another way they can support you is they can gift meals to those who are self-isolating. Also of course, encourage your guests to buy gift vouchers for themselves or to gift them to their friends and family for a future date.
Merchandise is another option for an additional revenue stream and maintaining brand awareness. For example, Ikoyi's e-shop is offering t-shirts and a covetable tote-bag. Of course don't forget to have guests share on their purchases social channels. For some more examples, please refer to this link.
Communicate With Your Guests
As guests increasingly practise social distancing, keep the community you’ve built informed; not only is it a valuable way to let your regulars know of your activities, but as people go out less, retaining a sense of normality will be key in the long run. Advise them why postponing their bookings instead of cancelling is better. Notify your guests about gift card options to help your restaurant with incremental cash-flow to help weather the crisis, and keep on top of social media to help guests keep you top-of-mind, and to promote new dishes or menu items.
Update your guests via email and social channels about your restaurant’s status and any promotions for when trade returns to normal. Use targeted emails; the more specific the better, because it will lead to higher open rates and greater interaction. For more suggestions and examples, check out Resy's Communicating With Your Guests During the Coronavirus post.
Communicating how you're keeping guests safe
When restrictions eventually relax, guests could be hesitant to return. Showing your restaurant is COVID-19 certified can assure guests you're not only complying with government guidelines but also assuaging their concerns. In this scenario, there is no such thing as oversharing.
- Displaying clearly guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people including suppliers on arrival (i.e. signage, visual aids) and before arrival (i.e. by phone, on the website, on social channels or by email)
- Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm.
- Encouraging guests and visitors to wash their hands regularly
- Making regular announcements to remind customers to follow social distancing advice and clean their hands regularly.
Facebook groups have been set up across the UK for volunteers to offer help and for those in need to ask for it. Keep locals apprised of how your restaurant can help people access food in particular for at-risk populations including the elderly, disabled and/or immunocompromised; and find locals offering to help deliver food. A list of some are included at the bottom of this post.
As is helpful, we will continue to pass along information and support you during this period of unprecedented hardship. Please stay safe, and keep washing those hands!
For more information please refer to the following links:
- GOV.UK Business Support
- EY Next Steps: Cash Flow Management
- Grant Funding Schemes: Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund Guidance
- UK Hospitality Job Retention Scheme Guidance
- CBI Coronavirus Hub
- Food Standards Agency: Distance Selling (including Delivery)
- NHS Coronavirus Guidelines
- UK GOV: Guidance on COVID-19
- F&B Guide
Mutual-Aid Facebook Groups for London Boroughs
Mutual-Aid Facebook Groups for Outside London