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Bars given further protection from eviction

The UK government has extended measures to prevent landlords from evicting bar owners if they are unable to pay their rent due to the Covid-19 pandemic, offering tenants protection until 30 September 2020.

The UK bar industry has been urging the government to freeze commercial rent payments to help save businesses and millions of jobs

In March, the government ordered all on-trade businesses in the UK to close due to the spread of coronavirus, but said no businesses would be forced to vacate their premises if they missed rent payments by 30 June.

The hospitality industry has been urging the government to extend the moratorium on commercial landlord sanctions and debt enforcement before the next quarterly instalment is due at the end of June, or risk millions of job losses and hundreds of business closures.

Non-essential retailers were able to start operating again from the start of this week, and bars, pubs and restaurants are hoping they can reopen from 4 July as previously expressed by UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

Alok Sharma MP, business secretary, said: “By putting a stop to unreasonable evictions, these measures will protect jobs and provide further flexibility to our high street businesses that were trading successfully before the Covid-19 emergency, so they can focus on continuing to deliver for their customers and communities.”

The government has also issued a new Code of Practice to assist with rent negotiations between tenants and landlords. The code aims to encourage tenants and landlords to be open in their discussions and to act “reasonably and responsibly”, while recognising the impact coronavirus has had on companies’ finances.

The move has been welcomed by trade body UK Hospitality, which has been backing the on-trade’s #NationalTimeOut campaign, led by Hospitality Union.

Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality CEO, said: “The near-total wipeout of income from the hospitality sector has left it unable to meet its rent obligations.

“This code goes some way to bringing together landlord and tenant in the pursuit of a negotiated solution to allow hospitality businesses to move on and revert to the new normal, but this must be recognised as a first step that needs to be built on by all parties.

“We remain of the view that further time and support is needed to facilitate a recovery for the hospitality sector, that is at the heart of our social lives and communities. The extension of the moratorium on aggressive enforcement and forfeiture is a welcome measure to allow this process to take place.”

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