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UK Hospitality to outline protocols for safe reopening of bars

Trade body UK Hospitality is due to publish a series of protocols designed to support the safe reopening of venues once lockdown measures are lifted.

UK Hospitality has drafted a series of protocols to help venues plan their reopenings safely

UK Hospitality has been consulting with its members and other professionals in the trade to design protocols for specific sub-sectors, including accommodation, coffee shops, food service management, late night venues, pubs, visitor attractions and quick-service restaurants.

The measures will be shared with other sector stakeholders, including employee organisations and various trade associations.

It is hoped the documents will provide guidance for businesses to create their own plans, bespoke to their individual needs, with a focus on safety when reopening.

Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality chief executive, said: “The size and diversity of the hospitality sector means that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to reopening. Across our industry there are many sub-sectors and widely different business models.

“The practical challenges in reopening faced by a pub or a bar will be different from those faced by a holiday park, for instance. Even within the same sector, there is bound to be a huge difference in the size, shape, location and layout of outwardly similar businesses.

“We have been working hard with our members and alongside other industry bodies to provide practical and effective protocols, which will enable businesses to begin to reopen safely when the time is right. The protocols do not provide bespoke plans for individual businesses to operate under social distancing guidelines; these will have to be devised by businesses on a site by site basis.

“But the protocols to help businesses draw up those plans and ensure that safety is at the forefront of operations when the time comes to reopen.”

Furlough extension ‘critical’

UK Hospitality has also stressed an extended and flexible furlough scheme will be “critical to the survival” of the hospitality industry.

The body has written to UK chancellor Rishi Sunak to urge continued support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It estimated around 2.4 million people are currently on furlough in the hospitality sector.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to give an update on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme today (12 May)

UK Hospitality said the industry would benefit from the continuation of the 80% furlough pay until the end of September, with a tapered scheme until the end of the year.

It also advised removing the maximum three-week period to allow for more flexibility among reopening businesses and sector-specific part-furlough schemes where the pay is divided between the government and the employer.

UK Hospitality drew attention to the impact Covid-19 has had on the hospitality sector, which expects trading to be as much as 88% lower than last year if businesses reopen in July. On Sunday (10 May), UK prime minister Boris Johnson said some parts of hospitality may be able to reopen in July.

Nicholls added: “As the government and businesses begin to think about reopening, it is vital that furlough support continues. Abruptly turning it off would be a disaster and undo the good work that the government has already done.

“Confidence among businesses for the rest of the year with even best-case scenario predictions point to a huge drop in trading. Without continued support through the furlough scheme, businesses will fail and people will lose their jobs.

“We have reiterated our call for an extension of the scheme and an increase in flexibility to provide the maximum support and opportunity for businesses and their employees. If we do not get it, we are looking at an even greater threat to a sector that has already been hammered.”

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