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COVID-19 Updates 17th – 19th June

Dear Members

Below are the updates from the 17th -19th June.  There is a significant amount of information in all of the daily updates and it is difficult to condense into smaller pieces without missing something.

To avoid e mail and information overload, from Monday 22nd June this information will only be available on the AGTO website www.agto.co.uk for you to access as and when you wish to update on the situation.

 

UPDATE 19TH June 2020

Daily Government briefing

The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, gave today’s press briefing. The Education Secretary gave the daily datasets on UK COVID-19 tests and cases and an update on education. He also said that the COVID-19 alert level has moved from level 4 to level 3 and that the devolved administrations have agreed with this. During the Q+A he was asked which countries the UK will have travel corridors with. He replied that he hopes that people will be able to visit all four nations of the UK this summer and that the Transport Secretary is working on this. View the full briefing here.

 

UK COVID-19 Consumer Tracker Report:  Week 4

The latest results of the UK Covid-19 Consumer Tracker Report, based on fieldwork from 8-12 June is now available.

Some key points include:

  • Confidence in the ability to take a domestic short break or holiday continues to gradually improve over time, but it’s still just 23% in August, rising to 40% by September but remaining at under 50% by the end of the year.
  • 31% now believe the worst has passed regarding COVID-19 which is a significantly higher proportion than last week (27%).  Significantly fewer also consider the ‘worst is yet to come’.
  • There continues to be little expectation things will be returning to normal anytime soon, with just 23% expecting ‘normality’ by September (versus 29% last week) and 49% by December (compared to 52% in week 3).
  • Our ‘Appetite for Risk’ score is unchanged at 2.33.  Using public transport continues to be the activity (among those asked) people are least comfortable in undertaking.
  • Main reasons driving this relative lack of confidence are virtually identical this week, again led by restrictions on travel by government (52%), fewer opportunities to eat or drink out  (50%) and concerns about catching COVID-19 (46%).
  • When asked to compare to last year, 41% of U.K. adults expect to be taking fewer domestic short-breaks, while for holidays the corresponding figure is 40%.  These proportions remain stable week-on-week.
  • The proportion expecting to go on a domestic short-break or holiday by this September is also stable, with the trend over the past three weeks being 22%, 23% and 22% respectively.
  • In terms of region/nation to be visited between now and September, the South West still leads (19%) followed by Scotland (12%), but as per last week there’s little to separate the places ranked 2-5.  The South West and Scotland also lead for visits planned from October onwards.
  • For the summer period, countryside/village and traditional coastal/seaside town destinations continue to lead with 32% and 30% shares respectively.  Cities move into joint second place for trips scheduled from October.
  • For the June-September period, we again see a broadly even split between the leading four accommodation types, although from October we see hotels/motels/inns take a clear lead, with caravan/camping moving down the rankings.
  • As restrictions lift, outdoor areas and activities (e.g. beaches, trails, theme parks) look set to attract higher than usual levels of visitors than normal, while predominantly indoor activities/venues (e.g. restaurants, spas, museums, galleries) are likely to face a lengthier period of subdued demand.

 

Wales announces the next stage of their re-opening

The Welsh First Minister has made a statement about the next stage of their reopening approach.

From Monday 22 June:

  • Non-essential retail to reopen.
  • Private prayer in places of worship where social distancing is maintained and gatherings do not take place
  • Restarting the housing market by enabling house viewings to take place in vacant properties and house moves where a sale has been agreed but not yet completed
  • Lifting the restrictions on outdoor sports courts but social distancing must be maintained. No contact or team sports will be allowed
  • Enabling non-professional elite athletes, including Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, to resume training.

 

At the next review on 9 July, the Welsh Government will consider a range of specific options for opening:

  • Self-contained holiday accommodation
  • Personal care services, such as hairdressing and beauty, by appointment only.

 

Stay local advice remains for the next three weeks, unless it is for compassionate grounds, they will look to lift this from 6 July. With the requirement lifted, people will be able to travel to tourist attractions across Wales. Although tourism accommodation is being considered for reopening from the beginning of July, the First Minister said that hospitality was not yet in a position to reopen and they will not be considered in this package of measures, and will only be considered when safe to do so. He also said that the tourism industry must now use the next three weeks to work with local communities to prepare for reopening.

 

Opening Dates

With the Wales announcement on reopening, the reopening dates across the UK and Ireland now look like this:

Wales

    • Possible opening  of outdoor activities and attractions on 6th July
    • Announcement on 9th July with possible opening from 13th July of accommodation without shared facilities
    • Reopening of accommodation with shared facilities, restaurants, cafes, pubs and indoor attractions and events unknown but possibly after 13th July

Scotland

    • Industry told to prepare for opening on 15th July as an indicative date
    • A date for reopening pubs and restaurants will not be decided until at least 2nd July

Northern Ireland

    • 26th June – reopening of caravan parks, camping sites and self-catering tourist accommodation
    • 3rd July – reopening of other tourist accommodation as well as attractions, pubs and restaurants, although some phasing may occur.

Ireland

    • 29th June reopening for hotel, pubs and restaurants

England

    • Indicative date of 4th July with probable phasing for different sectors of the industry

 

Guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector in Scotland

The Scottish Government has published guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector in Scotland. It comes into effect immediately – from 18 June 2020 – and extends until further notice. It will be reviewed in line with the regular three-weekly review of lockdown requirements.

 

Commercial property code of practice announced

The Government has extended measures to prevent struggling companies from eviction until the end of September. A new code of practice has been developed with the retail, hospitality and property sectors to provide clarity for businesses when discussing rental payments and to encourage best practice so that all parties are supported.

Further details include:

  • A statutory instrument will be laid to amend the Coronavirus Act to extend the time period for suspension of the forfeiture of evictions from June 30 to September 30, meaning no business will be forced out of their premises if they a miss a payment in the next three months.
  • Also a secondary legislation will be laid to prevent landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery unless they are owed 189 days of unpaid rent. The time period for which this measure is in force will be extended from June 30 to September 30.
  • An amendment to the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill has been tabled which will extend the temporary ban on the use of statutory demands and winding-up petitions where a company cannot pay its bills due to coronavirus until 30 September.

 

Other Government updates

  • A new template is available for download for employers who will be claiming for 100 or more employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The new form is for claims on or after 1 July.
  • A New tool  has been developed to help businesses in England identify whether they can reopen safely during coronavirus.  This tool encourages businesses to carry out a risk assessment and helps to identify the workplace adjustments that they should make. This guidance is only for businesses that are allowed to reopen.
  • The Home Office has published the paper considered by SAGE on 27 April 2020, COVID-19 – measures at the border.
  • The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended that the COVID-19 alert level should move from Level 4  to Level 3. This has been reviewed by the Chief Medical Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who agree with this recommendation to move to Level 3 across the UK.

 

Lorry Bus and Trailer MOTs

DfT have announced that MOT testing for lorries, buses and trailers will restart from 4th July.

 

Feedback for BEIS

BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) are interested to know how coronavirus is impacting your business and is inviting businesses to provide feedback using the following address intel@beis.gov.uk

 

VisitEngland recovery webinars for businesses

VisitEngland is hosting a series of free business recovery webinars to help businesses get back on track following the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar programme covers a number of topics to provide businesses with practical insight and valuable information from within VisitBritain/VisitEngland and across the wider travel industry. The programme starts on Tuesday 30 June with a spotlight on inbound and domestic research and insight. The full list of webinars and booking information for each webinar can be found on the website

 

Situation update 19 June 2020

 

UPDATE 18th June 2020

Daily Government briefing

Today’s briefing was led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Dido Harding, Chairwoman of NHS Improvement. The briefing included updates on the latest testing data and vaccine developments. The test and trace system is working, although the contact tracing app being tested on the Isle of Wight is still under review. Questions focused on the test and trace scheme. One question asked about visiting family and staying overnight, to which Hancock replied he was keen to see people holidaying this year, and the Government would be updating guidance on social distancing in due course.  View the full briefing here.

 

Scotland announces changes for phase 2 of route map to recovery

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced further changes to Scotland’s lockdown restrictions as the country moves through phase 2 of its route map to recovery. Review changes to the updated reopening plan here. Public services will continue to gradually reopen, and other phase 2 changes will be introduced as follows:

From 19 June:

  • People who are shielding are able to leave their home for exercise and to meet with 1 other household outdoors (max 8 people in total) with physical distancing from 18 June. They are also able to take part in non-contact outdoor activities such as golf, hiking, fishing.
  • People who are not shielding can meet with more households outside. Limit increased from meeting 1 household to meeting 2 households; 8 person overall limit and need for physical distancing remains.
  • Certain household types can now meet others indoors in an ‘extended household’.
  • Those visiting another household in a private garden will be permitted to use the household toilet, with increased hygiene measures urged. This does not include a household of someone who is shielding.
  • People should continue to stay in their local area as much as possible and should not travel more than broadly five miles for leisure or recreation.

 

From 22 June:

  • Face coverings are mandatory on public transport.
  • Places of worship can re-open for individual prayer and contemplation.
  • Professional sport can resume – with public health restrictions remaining in place.
  • Dental practices can re-open to see patients with urgent care needs.
  • Construction sector can implement remaining phases of sectoral plan.
  • College and university staff can return to make essential preparations for restart in Phase 3.
  • Consistent with Phase 2, accommodation allowed for those required to stay away from home for work purposes.

 

From 29 June:

  • Indoor (non-office) workplaces resume once relevant guidance is implemented.
    • Includes: factories, warehouses, labs and research facilities
    • Excludes: indoor workplaces due to open in Phase 3 (e.g. non-essential offices and call-centres)
  • Street-access retail can re-open once guidance is implemented. Interiors of shopping malls/centres remain closed for non-essential shops until Phase 3.
  • Outdoor markets can re-open once guidance implemented.
  • Relaxation on restrictions on housing moves.
  • Outdoor sports courts and playgrounds can re-open.
  • Registration offices open for high priority tasks.
  • Marriages and civil partnerships allowed with minimal attendees – outdoors only.
  • Zoos and garden attractions can open but should remain limited to local access only (broadly within 5 miles) in this phase.

 

Fáilte Ireland releases guidance for opening pubs in Republic of Ireland

Fáilte Ireland has released guidelines for reopening pubs (including pubs, gastropubs and bars) in the Republic of Ireland.

  • Seating time has been extended from 90 minutes to 105 minutes, with 15 minutes reserved for cleaning between guests (2 hours total).
  • Contact tracing: Businesses will now be required to collect the contact information of just the party lead. Previously, the original HPSC guidance stated that this should be collected for the full group.
  • Businesses may implement 1 metre physical distancing in controlled environments, provided other risk mitigation requirements have been met and pre-booked time slots are in place.

 

Data on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on UK economy, personal and economic well-being

 

The Treasury Select Committee has published its report on gaps in support for employees and the self-employed. The key recommendations in the report are for the Government to:

    • Find a way to extend eligibility criteria to all new starters
    • Remove the £50,000 cap for SEISS and allowing those with profits just over this cap access to some financial support, up to the total monthly support cap of £2,500
    • Support limited company directors who are missing out on support because they pay themselves in dividends
    • Give PAYE freelance workers access to financial support that equates to 80 per cent of their average monthly income earned in the first 11 months of the 2019–20 tax year
    • Extend support to those newly self-employed who are unable to benefit from the SEISS
    • Amend the CJRS to allow tronc payments made via PAYE to be included when calculating worker’s pay when assessing entitlement

 

Other Government updates

  • The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund FAQ has been updated to provide information on websites and Local Authority delivery partners. Table 1 has been updated to reflect activities that are in or out of the scope of the Fund.
  • The VAT payment deferral period ends on 30 June. Information about the end of the deferral period has been updated.
  • A YouTube video offering guidance on how to make a claim for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been updated.

 

Industry updates

  • Manchester Airport will trial offering passengers free pre-booked 15-minute timeslots to pass through security.
  • Virgin Voyages has released its Voyage Well plan, outlining measures for health screenings, on-board social distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols and flexible booking policies as the company prepares to resume sailing in October.
  • Hilton has announced they will reduce approximately 2,100 corporate roles globally and will extend furloughs, reduced hours and pay reductions for another 90 days.

 

VisitEngland “Get Ready to Open” Business Resource Centre

To help tourism businesses to prepare for reopening, the Business support team at VisitEngland have developed a new website to bring together all the guidance and resources available to businesses. This is an excellent resource for all businesses and will be added to when the new Government Guidance for the industry and associated protocols are published. It also include a wide range of webinars that businesses can sign up to on topics ranging from market insights to how to use technology to maximise business.

 

New HSE Guidance

HSE have also developed a range of guidance documents for businesses on how to protect both staff and customers

 

Situation update 18 June 2020

 

UPDATE 17th June 2020

Daily Government briefing

Today’s briefing was led by DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden. After reviewing the latest testing data he acknowledged that the Premier League resumed playing today and spoke of the benefits that sports can have on mental health in our communities. He spoke further on the challenges that the arts and culture sectors are facing, particularly in regards to the 2m distancing rule. Progress has been made through the five working groups, but greater flexibility will be needed to reopen theatres and discussions will continue this week to develop a roadmap for reopening.

The first question asked about the Job Retention Scheme supporting theatres, and Dowden outlined the Government support available for the sector. Another question asked about seating people side-by-side in theatres and Dowden said he has been talking to the industry but realises that it is a big challenge, and more difficult for theatres than for cinemas due to profit margins. In response to a question about restarting the tourism industry, Dowden referred to the roadmap that sets 4 July as the target date for the next stage of reopening and said that guidance will be published in due course. Asked about air bridges, Dowden replied that the quarantine remains in place and that air bridges are being looked at by the Transport secretary, but any decisions will be guided by science. The final question asked about people who are struggling due to losing jobs in hospitality, to which Dowden replied that safely reopening the sector will support people in returning to work.  View the full briefing here.

 

Coronavirus grant funding: local authority payments to small and medium businesses

Local authorities have received and distributed funding to support small and medium businesses in England during coronavirus. As of 14 June, £10.36 billion has been paid out to over 844,000 business properties. Review the local authority grant payments as of 14 June 2020 here.

 

Updated Discretionary Fund Guidance and FAQ

BEIS have updated the guidance and associated FAQ on the Discretionary Fund. The main changes seems to be:

    • Clarifying that businesses with a rateable value of over £51k are eligible for this fund
    • Businesses who are eligible for or in receipt of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) are eligible to apply for this scheme
    • Clarifying that businesses that were not in the scope of the Small Business Grants Fund or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund can receive grants through this scheme
    • Clarifying that businesses suppliers to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors who have lost demand and missed out on the previous grants can apply for funding through this scheme
    • Clarifying that micro-business that people operate from home are apply to apply for funding through this scheme.

 

DCMS Coronavirus Impact Business Survey

Some top line findings have been released on how DCMS sectors are responding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which are as follows:

  • 68% of operators thought the Coronavirus outbreak was a threat to the viability of their business (80% for tourism businesses)
  • Even with Government support packages, 27% of respondents said that their business would not be viable within 3 months (32% for tourism businesses), while 56% said that their business would not be viable within 6 months (62% for tourism businesses)
  • 42% of respondents said that their business was generating no revenue at all (68% for tourism businesses), while 74% said that their revenue had decreased by more than half (92% for tourism businesses) and only 10% said that revenue had stayed the same or increased (2% for tourism businesses)
  • 54% of businesses have accessed Government support of any type (31% for tourism businesses)

This suggests a very worrying situation where tourism businesses are being impacted more severely than other DCMS-related businesses, but are experiencing far greater problems in accessing support. The situation is even worse in the events sector.  You can review the latest data tables here.

 

Reopening High Streets Safely Fund Q&A

A new FAQ has been produced for the Reopening High Streets safely Fund which puts new constrictions on how money from the fund can be used.  This new FAQ rules out the using the fund to undertake work promoting high streets and destinations as being open or providing any type of visitor information alongside information provision on public safety measures. It also prevents the funding being used for the provision of public toilets or for the cleaning of existing toilets. On a more positive note, funding can be used to provide one-to-one advice to local businesses on operating safely.

 

Notes from CBI Session with Shadow Business Secretary Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP

Kurt Janson of The Tourism Alliance has sent some notes from today’s CBI’s webinar with the shadow Business Secretary where he put forward Labour’s view on the support that businesses need. There was specific recognition of the issues faced by the tourism and aviation sectors and support for cutting VAT.

  • These circumstances would challenge any government, having to move at speed with unprecedented challenges
  • Shared belief that every viable business and every job we save now, is something we should be trying to do
  • Welcomed the furlough scheme the most. The Chancellor saw what was happening in other countries, listened to the CBI and the TUC and implemented it well. The worry is about the winding down of the furlough in a one size fits all way. It is increasingly true this is a general recession, but also a sectoral recession – if you are in hospitality, tourism, creative industries – you are facing much greater public health oriented challenges than others. It will send some businesses over the edge and increase unemployment
  • Would like to see more sector by sector support and not demand employer contributions or make-up employer contributions for those that face particular hardship – make judgment if furlough has a hard stop in October or build in more flexibility
  • On the business interruption loans – Labour called right at the beginning for 100% underwriting of loans. CBILS was supposed to be freed up by Bounce-back Loans, if anything they seem to be slowing. On CL BILS, these are too slow and too tied up in bureaucracy – current issue is that to get CL BILS, it has to become the loan of most seniority – so if you have another loan, you have to renegotiate
  • Worry about manufacturers, facing difficult global demand conditions – Steel manufacturers not getting anything from CL BILS
  • In comparison, France/Germany got loans within 10 days – we are at the three month point
  • On aerospace, French government announced £15bn aviation and aerospace package, with low carbon engines – would like to see that kind of ambition in relation to our manufacturers
  • Going to need some income contingency brought into these loans, particularly but not limited to SMEs – cannot have massive debt overhang as we enter recovery (student loan model)
  • Key actions: Sort out loan scheme, sort out sector flexibility for furlough and then implement a substantial jobs plan
  • Future Jobs Fund useful starting point – have a zero carbon army, plant trees, install insulation
  • Energy efficiency programme – can be done in public buildings, homes throughout the country – bring funds committed to net zero forward and deliver it now
  • Going to need demand side support – general support such as VAT cut
  • Labour party consultation going on with business at the moment on green projects/ infrastructure. Consultation on how to have a green recovery ends 30 June
  • National projects, but could start delivering in regional areas that are most impacted
  • Brexit – government believes they can get a deal, they just need to get on and do it. There just has to be a deal, no-deal would be deeply damaging
  • No deal would have been a bad thing anyway, but under these circumstances unthinkable

 

Industry updates

  • Norwegian Air will resume flights from London Gatwick to Oslo and Copenhagen, and from Edinburgh to Oslo and Copenhagen starting 1 July.
  • Cameron Mackintosh Limited and Delfont Mackintosh Theatres have announced that their London productions of Les Misérables, Mary Poppins, Hamilton and Phantom of the Opera will not return until at least 2021.
  • Air Malta will commence its summer schedule in July, adding flights from Malta to London Heathrow from 15 July and flights to Manchester in August.

 

Situation update 17 June 2020

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