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 18 January at 11:57 to reflect new updates
- Reopening Safely During COVID-19
- Communicate with your Guests
- Business Interruption Insurance
- The UK Government's Economic Measures
- Bringing in Revenue
Reopening the Economy
The national lockdown will be in place indefinitely and with no review date specified. The end of restrictions will be linked to the roll out of the vaccine.
- You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse. If you must travel, stay local and reduce the number of journeys you make overall.
- The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to: work, accessing education, caring responsibilities, visiting those in your support bubble, medical appointment, outdoor exercise, buying goods or services locally. If you are already on holiday, you should return to your home as soon as practical.
- Hospitality venues can only open to provide takeaway food and non alcoholic drinks until 11pm, click and collect and drive through. Alcohol may be provided by delivery.
COVID-secure guidelines will become legal obligations. A fine of up to £10,000 for those who fail to self-isolate, will also now be applied to businesses breaking COVID rules. The penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence.
- The restrictions will be in place until 6 February and will be reviewed on 21 January.
- Private garden gatherings - maximum of six people from one household or support bubble only, with children under 12 counting towards the permitted total.
- Gatherings reduced to maximum of six people from two households. Children under 12 are now counted towards the permitted total.
- Outdoor exercise permitted with one person from another household - to allow, for example, those living alone to go for a walk with a friend.
- A £95 million High Street Voucher Scheme will give people a pre-paid card for use on the high street.
- £10.6 million has been allocated to Wet Pubs. This will support approximately 1,000 licenced premises.
- £5 million will top-up the Tourism and Hospitality Scheme reflecting the extraordinary costs of some businesses forced to close.
- £4.1 million for Bed and Breakfasts - aimed at certified accommodation businesses that were excluded from previous support because they pay domestic rates rather than business rates.
- £3 million for the extension of Digital Selling Capability Grant to help local businesses grow their online sales.
- The Department for Communities has been allocated £71.5 million.
Household mixing will be restricted to a maximum of 2 people from up to 2 households, with children aged 11 and under not included
Smaller hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will be entitled to a payment of £6,000. Larger hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,001 or more will receive £25,000. Applications are open now through the local authority website and payment will be made this month (January 2021).
Scotland's latest round of grants comes after the devolved government pledged a £104.3m package of support for tourism and hospitality, including £19.2m in one-off grants, back in December.
Much of the package is designed be targeted at licensed hospitality businesses that previously fell through the cracks, with £50.8m made available for businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,000 that have not received support from the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund or Hotel Support Programme.
Businesses required to close by law are able to claim up to £3,000 every four weeks through the Strategic Framework Business Fund.
Scotland's contact tracing app, Protect Scotland, is live and available for download.
- Every business occupying a property with a rateable value of £12,001 or less will be eligible for a £1,000 payment.
- Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses forced to close during the firebreak lockdown period occupying a property with a rateable value between £12,001 and £51,000 will be eligible for a £5,000 payment.
- A discretionary £2,000 top-up grant will be made available on an application basis for those businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or less who are forced to close by the firebreak lockdown.
- A further discretionary £1,000 grant will be made available to businesses on the same basis where they are materially affected by local lockdown measures for 21 days or more prior to the start of the firebreak lockdown period.
- How to keep records on customers, staff and visitors.
- A ‘Maintaining Records – poster’ to display on at premises for customers to view.
- 3 ‘easy read’ checklists: Social Distancing, ‘Keeping Records and Hygiene
There will be a temporary deregulation to allow all premises to automatically extend their permissions to include off sales until 11 pm and consumption in all outside areas. Any new permissions for off sales do not apply to times when the premises licence does not allow sales of alcohol for consumption in outdoor areas. The permission will lapse on 30 September 2021, unless the temporary period is extended.
New pavement licence regime is live: from Thursday 23 July, the new fast-track pavement licence permissions is live. The cost of the licence is capped at £100 and may be granted to September 2021. Any restaurant looking to take advantage of this, will update their COVID-19 risk assessment and will also be mindful of existing premise licence which impacts their outside area. The local authority will consult for 7 days and the licence will be deemed granted after 14 days.
Reopening Safely During COVID-19
Each business will need to translate guidance into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of their business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated. They will also need to monitor these measures to make sure they continue to protect guests and staff. The guidance does not supersede any existing legal obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors and employees, suppliers and others who may access your premises. To help you decide which actions to take, you must carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other health and safety related hazards.
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. Health and safety law requires all employers to assess the risk of returning to work while the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing, to take preventative measures to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practical level and to put steps in place to manage that risk. Risk assessments must also be completed for safe goods processes for food, alcohol, laundry etc.
Employers have a duty to consult their staff on health and safety by conducting an in-depth risk assessment with constructive engagement and 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. In your assessment you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 or have protected characteristics which might either expose them to a different degree of risk, or make any steps you are thinking about inappropriate or challenging for them.
The results of the risk assessment must be shared with your team. The government expects all business to demonstrate to staff and customers they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate mitigating actions. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (the Government expects all businesses with over 50 workers to do so).
Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law.
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. Mental health should also be factored into the risk assessment with available resources signposted to help staff manage issues like stress and isolation. Once complete, ensure the result of the risk assessment is visible and communicated to employees.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA), your local authority Environmental Health Services will usually be the relevant enforcing authority for how you control the risk of coronavirus.
Local authorities also have powers under public health legislation for covering whether businesses should be operating, the requirement to take all reasonable measures to maintain social distancing, or to ensure your workers in the shielded category can follow the NHS advice to self-isolate for the period specified.
Where the enforcing authority identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with public health guidance to control COVID-19 health risks to workers (including not taking appropriate action to ensure social distancing where possible), they will consider a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks, including the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements. There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises. Serious breaches or failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines or even imprisonment for up to 2 years.
Test and Trace
The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days via your reservations system, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. If you do not already take reservations, you should do so to help fight the virus as this could help contain clusters or outbreaks.
When collecting contact information, inform your guests and staff the importance of NHS Test and Trace and explain why you are asking for such information and encourage them to provide it. If a guest informs you they do not want to share their details with NHS Test and Trace, they can choose to opt-out. This will help to avoid the reintroduction of lockdown measures and support the country to return to, and maintain, a more normal way of life.
There is a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19 in premises, like restaurants and pubs offering on-site service whether indoors or outdoors, where guests spend a longer time in one place and come into close contact with other people outside of their household.
The information below should be collected where possible:
- Names of both guests and staff
- If the guest made a reservation for more than 1 person, record the name of the primary reservation holder
- Contact Phone Number
- For guests, either the contact number of each guest or the primary reservation holder of the reservation
- Dates; arrival and departure of both the guest and staff. By recording both arrival and departure times, it will help reduce the number of people NHS Test and Trace will need to contact.
If you already use a reservations system, use it to collect the requisite information. If you don't collect the above information at time of booking, the information should be collected at the point when guests enter your premises. Ideally, the information should be collected digitally. Furthermore, encourage advanced reservations only to manage the number of people on the premises.
Should a guest informs you they have tested positive for coronavirus, businesses should register their contacts with NHS Test and Trace and leave any follow up work with other customers to the local NHS Test and Trace team. If they assess that the customer was on your premises while potentially infectious, they will contact you to provide support and to obtain the details of anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.
Maintaining records and GDPR
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has also published data protection guidance for organisations mandated to collect customer and visitor information.
The data being collected for NHS Test and Trace must be handled in accordance with GDPR. GDPR allows you to request contact information from your staff and guests and share it with NHS Test and Trace. It is not necessary to seek consent from each person, but you should make clear why the information is being collected and the intended use of the information via a notice on your premises or on your website.
If you already collect information for ordinary business purposes, such as for reservations, that can be used for NHS Test and Trace, you should make staff, guests and visitors aware that their contact information may now also be shared with NHS Test and Trace. This data does not need to be disposed of after 21 days.
The requirement to dispose of the data securely or deleted relates to a record that is created solely for the purpose of NHS Test and Trace. When deleting or disposing of data, you must do so in a way that does not risk unintended access (e.g. shredding paper documents and ensuring permanent deletion of electronic files). All collected data, however, must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation and should not be kept for longer than is necessary.
Personal data that is collected for NHS Test and Trace, which you would not collect in your usual course of business, must be used only to share with NHS Test and Trace. It must not be used for other purposes such as marketing or other purposes unrelated to contact tracing, or you will be in breach of GDPR.
Ensuring staff safety
Before reopening, conduct an assessment for all sites, or parts of sites, that have been closed, before restarting work. Where premises have been empty due to lockdown, thorough safety checks should be conducted on gas and electrical installations, water cooler and ventilation checks, particularly regarding Legionella risks and pest control checks should be conducted to avoid infestation problems. (Guidance on reopening food businesses)Communicating with your team
- Provide clear, consistent and regular communication and signage to improve understanding, consistency of new ways of working, maintain hygiene standards and help with adoption.
- Continued engagement with your team and representatives through existing communication routes to explain and agree any changes in working arrangements and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to their work environment
- Use simple messages using images and clear language with consideration for those which English may not be their first language and those with visual impairments.
- Use 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 a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available. Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.
- Use visual communications to explain changes to rotas or stock shortages to minimise face to face communications (social distancing)
- Developing communication and training materials for your team prior to returning to work, especially around new procedures for arrival at work.
- Training your staff on changes to existing procedures, recipes and hygiene measures is essential prior to or upon return to work. Businesses should consider an induction process for all staff. This can have the positive effect of increasing confidence among the employees by communicating the business is taking risks seriously, have adapted their working environment accordingly and are emphasising individual responsibilities.
- Consider conducing a pilot test to find weaknesses, familiarise staff with new procedures and make improvements before a full reopening is undertaken. confirms the value of trialling new ways of working before a fuller restart is attempted.
- 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
- 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
- As an employer, you cannot decide who the COVID champion will be. This should be a continuation of existing processes to involve employees in optimising health and safety outcomes.
- Keep a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks.
- Consider who is essential to be on site; those not in customer-facing roles such as administrative staff should work from home if at all possible.
- 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 and ensuring actions taken as a result of the risk assessment do not disproportionately impact those with vulnerabilities
- Determining if any of your team who are advised to stay at home do not physically come to work
- Clean shared vehicles between shifts or on handover
- Maintain fixed travel partners
- Implement procedures to minimise person-to-person contact when visiting other sites
- See government guidance on travelling to and from work.
Sanitation & hygiene
- If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then you should refer to the specific guidance
- Enhancing sanitation for busy areas and high frequency touch points (i.e. light switches, counters, tills, handles etc) and making sure adequate disposal arrangement for cleaning products
- Cleaning surfaces and objects between each guest use including tables, card machines, chairs, laminated menus (in view of guest before guest use), etc.
- If using paper menus, dispose after each use.
- Increasing the frequency of hand-washing and surface cleaning, or providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical
- Washing hands after handling goods, customer items and before moving onto another task. For example, after collecting used plates for cleaning and before serving food to another table.
- Washing hands before handling plates, takeaway boxes, cutlery, etc.
- Providing hand-sanitising stations at entry and exit points, in multiple locations in addition to washrooms
- Maintaining good ventilation in the work environment (i.e. opening windows and wedging doors open, where appropriate, not fire doors)
- Toilets: setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible.
- Consider using social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, and the adoption of a limited entry approach, with one in, one out (whilst avoiding the creation of additional bottlenecks).
- To enable good hand hygiene consider making hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets where safe and practical, and ensure suitable handwashing facilities are available.
- Keep the facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate.
- Putting up a visible cleaning schedule can keep it up to date and visible.
- Use normal cleaning products, paying attention to frequently hand touched surfaces, and consider use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces.
- Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.
- Where shower and changing facilities are required, setting clear use and cleaning guidance for showers, lockers and changing rooms to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that social distancing is achieved as much as possible.
- Cleaning procedures for goods and merchandise entering the site and parts of shared equipment you touch before each use
- Enhanced handling procedures of laundry to achieve disinfection and prevent potential contamination of surrounding surfaces, to prevent raising dust or dispersing the virus
- Providing storage for staff clothes and bags. Requesting staff change into work uniforms on site using appropriate facilities/changing areas, where social distancing and hygiene guidelines can be met. Washing uniforms on site, where appropriate, or requesting workers to regularly wash uniforms at home.
- Work out what needs cleaning or disinfecting every day, or more than once a day, and what needs cleaning less frequently using usual cleaning products. 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
- 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 be maintained wherever possible, including at entrances and exits, on the premises, between any person waiting to enter the premises etc. except between 2 members of the same household or support bubble.
- Reducing congestion
- By having more entry points to the venue if possible.
- If you have more than one door, consider having one for entering the building and one for exiting. Using markings to guide staff coming into or leaving the building.
- Staggering shifts to reduce crowding at entrances and exits
- Staggering break times to reduce pressure on the staff break rooms or places to eat and ensuring social distancing is maintained in staff break rooms. Using safe outside areas for breaks. Using social distance marking for other common areas such as toilets, lockers and changing rooms and in any other areas where queues typically form.
- Staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas.
- Evaluate your floor plan to account for the wider guidance on group size
- Up to two households (including support bubbles) indoors, and up to either two households (or support bubbles) or six people from more than two households outdoors.
- It is against the law to gather in groups of more than 6 people, except for the limited circumstances as set out in law.
- Evaluate the floor plan, see where congestion, "pinch points" occur and how to mitigate (i.e. corridors, stockrooms or around corners)
- Reviewing layouts and processes to allow staff to work further apart from each other
- Only where it is not possible to move working areas further apart, arranging people to work side-by-side or facing away from each other rather than face-to-face wherever possible
- If people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead.
- Reconfiguring indoor and outdoor seating and tables to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) between customers of different households or support bubbles.
- Reviewing entry and exit routes for customers, visitors and contractors to minimise contact with other people. Calculate the maximum number of customers that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable
- Adjusting put-away and replenishment rules to create space for social distancing
- Introducing a one-way flow routes through the buildings via signage that clearly indicate the direction of flow.
- Managing use of high traffic areas including, corridors, lifts and staircases to maintain social distancing.
- Using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people comply with social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable).
- If there's a lift in your building: reduce maximum occupancy for lifts, provide hand sanitiser for the operation of lifts and encourage use of stairs wherever possible.
- Reviewing layouts and processes to allow staff to work further apart from each other
Queue and Capacity Management
Reduce the need for customers to queue, but where this is unavoidable, discourage customers from queueing indoors and use outside spaces where available and safe.
Managing outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals, other businesses or additional security risks
Manage the entry of customers through a reservations system and/or social distancing markers, and the number of customers at a venue, so that all indoor customers are seated with appropriate distancing, and those outdoors have appropriately spaced seating or standing room.
- Where social distancing cannot be maintained due to venue design, 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.
Food preparation and service
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.Adjusting service approaches to minimise staff contact with guests.
- Indoor table service must be used where possible, alongside further measures such as assigning a single staff member per table.
- Encourage outdoor table service, customers are permitted to stand outside if distanced appropriately.
- Where bar or counter service is unavoidable, prevent customers from remaining at the bar or counter after ordering.
- Spacing workstations (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable), recognising the difficulty of moving equipment such as sinks, hobs and ovens. Consider cleanable panels to separate workstations in larger kitchens.
- Putting teams into shifts to restrict the number of workers interacting with each other.
- Allowing kitchen access to as few people as possible.
- Work areas should be assigned to one person as much as possible; if they need to be shared, they should be shared by the smallest number of people as possible.
- For people who work in one place (i.e. cashiers) working areas should allow them to maintain social distancing from one another and guests
- 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)
- Reducing movement within a venue by discouraging non-essential trips and restricting
access to some areas. Encourage use of technology when sending orders from service areas to kitchens and cleaning them between use.
- Reducing job and location rotation by assigning staff to specific areas or keeping them dedicated to one venue.
- Minimising contact during payments and exchange of documentation by using electronic payment methods and electronically signed and exchanged documents.
- Avoiding transmission from sharing pens and other objects.
- Encouraging contactless payments where possible and adjusting location of card readers to social distancing guidelines. If accepting cash, review how to minimise risk when handling
- Minimising self service of food, cutlery and condiments by providing cutlery and condiments only when food is served.
- Providing only disposable condiments or cleaning non-disposable containers after each use
- Prevent customers from congregating at points of service by having only staff collect and return empty glasses to the bar.
- Following government guidance on managing food preparation and food service areas.
- Considering methods to reduce frequency of deliveries (larger quantities, less often).
- Revising pick up and drop off collection points, procedures and signage, by having zones from which delivery drivers can collect packaged food items (non-contact delivery
- Having single workers or same pairs of people load or unload deliveries where safe
- Ensuring that delivery drivers or riders maintain good hygiene and wash their hands regularly and enabling drivers to access to welfare facilities when required
- Encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice
- Check procedures around the safe decanting and unwrapping of food
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)The Cabinet Office has confirmed that visors do not qualify as face coverings for the purposes of legal requirements for front of house staff in hospitality. However, staff working behind Perspex screens need not wear a face covering. Any face covering provided must fit properly over the mouth and nose.
Face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments.
- When wearing a face covering, avoid touching it or your face, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
- Change if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
- Change and wash your face covering daily
- Continue to wash your hands regularly
Communicate With Your Guests
As the situation changes, 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 Guides on Email Marketing Tips and How to Make Instagram Work for Restaurants.
Communicate how you're keeping guests safe
- Providing clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to guests before (i.e. during the online booking process, by phone, on the website, on social channels or by email) and upon arrival (i.e. signage, visual aids) and to ensure compliance with your requirements and that any community concerns are addressed
- Include what actions you will take if guest fail to comply with your safety measures
- Using signs and posters to inform guests of how should behave at your venue to keep everyone safe including to build awareness of good hand washing technique, the need to increase hand washing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm.
- Making regular announcements to remind customers to follow social distancing advice and clean their hands regularly.
- Advise patrons to avoid particular forms of transport or routes and to avoid crowded areas when in transit to the restaurant.
Business Interruption Insurance
The Supreme Court has substantially allowed the FCA's appeal on behalf of policyholders. Cover may be available for partial and full closure of premises and for mandatory closure orders which were no legally binding. This means more policyholders will have valid claims and some payouts could be higher. The test case is is only relevant for businesses with specific wording in their policies and 'was not intended to encompass all possible disputes'. The judgement does not determine how much is payable but provides the basis for doing so.
The FCA will work with insurers to close out their claims processes on valid claims that the Supreme Court has said should be paid as soon as possible, providing interim payments wherever possible. Policyholders with affected claims can expect to hear from their insurer soon. Should you have any questions, reach out to your broker, adviser or insurer. If an unsatisfactory result has been reached, refer your claim to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which can assist with resolving individual disputes.
More information is expected from the FCA including a Q&A to assist policyholders in understanding the test case.
The Government’s Economic Measures
Flexible Furlough: Employers have complete flexibility to decide on the right arrangements for them and their staff, including bringing staff back part time or on reduced hours whilst remaining on furlough. The employer will pay the worker in full for the hours worked, and the government furlough payment will top up their usual pay for the same period. The employer can set any amount of hours to be worked (including zero hours) on a weekly basis. The requirement to be furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks will be removed during this period.
Notes on Process
- 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.
- Don't forget to note or print-out of your claim reference number as there will not be a confirmation SMS or email provided.
- 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. The Government has announced a £20 million fund to support the recovery of small and medium-sized businesses in England. Businesses will be eligible to receive grants between £1,000 - £5,000 to help them adopt new technology, equipment or professional advice as they plan for recovery including diversification in the wake of the pandemic.
3. £10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package will give small businesses in tourist destinations grants up to £5,000. Businesses can use the funds to adopt new technology, purchase new equipment or for specialist professional advise such as legal or financial expertise. 100% of the money will come from government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.
7. Loan Schemes will remain open until 31 January 2021:
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.
- If you already have a Bounce Back Loan but borrowed less than you were entitled to, from 10 November you can top up your existing loan to your maximum amount. You must request the top-up by 31 January 2021.
- Before your first repayment is due, your lender will contact you about further options to:
- extend the term of your loan to 10 years
- move to interest-only repayments for a period of 6 months (you can use this option up to 3 times)
- pause your repayments for a period of 6 months if you have already made at least 6 repayments (you can use this option once)
Pay as you Grow Loan Scheme: Bounce Back Loan borrowers will all be offered the choice of more time and greater flexibility for their repayments. Bounce Back Loan repayment periods will be extended from six to ten years, with repayment holidays available.
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.
- 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
- The Government guarantee has been extended for 10 years
8. £10k small business grant funding to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or rural rates relief.
9. 14 days statutory sick pay (SSP) refunded to businesses with less than 250 employees. Repayment will cover up to 2 weeks SSP starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they have been advised by letter to shield because they’re clinically extremely vulnerable and at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Forms are now open for employers to check whether they are eligible and file a claim online.
10. The VAT payments deferral scheme ended on 30 June 2020. Businesses who deferred their VAT will no longer have to pay a lump sum at the end of March 2021. The Government announced that businesses will be allowed to opt in to a new VAT Deferral scheme next year whereby any deferred VAT can be paid in up to 11 instalments over the course of the year. The total deferred VAT is to be paid by March 2022. The online opt-in process will be available in early 2021.
11. An additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.
12. The Chancellor announced 24 September, the reduction VAT to 5% on food, accommodation and attractions will be extended to 31 March 2021. The temporary VAT cut only applies to food and non-alcoholic drink.
13. The Chancellor confirmed that the business support measures announced in the Winter Economy Plan will also apply to Wales. There will be an additional £140 million available to support Welsh businesses adapt to COVID and Brexit, eligibility criteria to be confirmed.
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 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
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
The government has relaxed planning permissions to allow restaurants to operate as take-aways until 23 March 2022. The automatic permission for takeaway sales will be extended, meaning businesses will not need to go through a planning application process.
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.
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:
- Grant Funding Schemes: Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund Guidance
- UK Hospitality Job Retention Scheme Guidance
- UK Hospitality Reopening FAQ for Pubs
- 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