The government has announced new lockdown rules that come into force on Monday September 14, banning gatherings of more than six people, and will require the public to provide test and trace details to pubs and restaurants.
Boris Johnson made the announcement yesterday (September 9) as he outlined new rules which could last up to six months, coming into force in England to prevent a feared spike in cases around the country.
Businesses failing to follow the new rules will be subject to fines the Prime Minister announced. In future, premises and venues where people meet socially will be legally required to request the contact details of a member of every party, record and retain these details for 21 days and provide them to NHS test and trace without delay when required” he said.
Speaking on radio 4 Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “large swathes of the hospitality industry have followed it but some have just chosen not to so were going to make that compulsory as well” he said
Responding to the announcement on the changes to social gatherings, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:
“It is understandable that the Government are concerned about the recent rise in COVID cases. This concern is recognised by our sector and we will play an active role in helping Government manage this rise in infections by continuing to adhere to the current guidelines as well as embracing the new ones.
“It is important to understand that the changes to social gatherings announced today will have an immediate cooling effect on public confidence to go out and visit our pubs. And will have a direct impact on trade that will be felt hard across an industry that is already struggling to get back on its feet. At such a delicate point in our recovery after a steady start this summer, as we head into Autumn and Winter where we expect trade to already slow down, this is very concerning.
“With the announcements made today pubs and breweries will need much more support from the Government I’d they are to survive. An extension on business rates relief, continuation of the VAT cut to food and soft drinks, a sector specific furlough extension and a significant beer duty cut are needed now. These measures, along with the welcomed compensation for businesses closed as a result of local lockdowns announced earlier today by The Treasury, will help pubs survive, protect jobs and ensure they can continue to serve our communities.
“Without this support from Government, and a clear message that pubs remain open for business and that the public should support them, our sector is in for a very rough end to an already devastating year.
“It fully remains the case that, by following the existing guidelines, pubs remain an entirely safe place for people to meet up at. To reopen every pub had to complete a risk assessment and put measures in place to ensure the safety of customers. With these measures in place, and pubs’ active participation in test and trace, pub goers can rest assured they are safe.”
In response to the mandatory participation of NHS test and trace in pubs and hospitality businesses across England, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:
“As one of the few sectors actively participating in test and trace, pubs have already been fully playing their part to ensure people follow the safety guidelines and contain the spread of the virus.
“Our sector will continue to play a leading role in supporting test and trace and all our members and the overwhelming majority of pubs across the UK are already using the test and trace system. In fact, pubs have been commended by Matt Hancock and Public Health England for their diligence and proactivity in working with NHS test and trace in England.
“We implore any pub not confident on if they are following the existing or new rules correctly to get in touch with us or one of the many trade associations out there who will be happy to help.
“Of course, it is important to remember that pub customers have a key role to play too in following the rules, and this means fully participating with test and trace.”
On the Prime Minister’s statement, UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said:
“The Prime Minister’s statement represents a further shift towards hospitality businesses to act to protect public health. This is a challenge that the sector has already grasped and will redouble efforts to achieve, in the interest of customers and staff, and to minimise the risk of further lockdowns.
“This will, of course, be more easily achieved with the cooperation of customers, so the measures to make clear the responsibility of individuals was equally welcome. Any fines charged against hospitality venues for breaching Covid-secure requirements must be proportionate and pertain to factors wholly under the control of the venue.
“Mr Johnson said that a later announcement will be made regarding a review of other types of gatherings, such as business conferences, and we strongly urge that any such announcement also includes the roadmap for a return to trade for nightclubs, for which we have long been asking.”
With regard to the Chief Secretary’s statement in the House of Commons, announcing grants for forcibly closed venues and criteria for furlough extension considerations, Ms Nicholls commented:
“It is reassuring that the government has recognised the damage closures will cause businesses. The grants would cover some costs, but more detail is needed to properly assess the benefit. For example, in Bolton at present, venues can open as takeaways, so presumably are not being forcibly closed, making them ineligible for the grants. This cannot be right.
“On furlough, the Chief Secretary said three questions remain unanswered in terms of targeted support. Since the pandemic broke, it has become inarguably clear that hospitality is justifiably front of the queue for inclusion, and our supply chain benefits from our recovery. We realise, of course, that any employment support cannot be open-ended but, based on the rate of recovery of the sector thus far, we would propose a potential winding down at the end of Q1 2021, as the sector looks forward to the summer season.”