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COVID-19 Update 7th October 2020

  • New Restrictions in Scotland

The First Minister has announced new restrictions that will come into effect from 6pm this Friday and will stay in place for 16 days (until the 25th Oct)

  • Pubs and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol indoors. However, they will be allowed to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks inside between 6am and 6pm.
  • Hotel restaurants will be able to serve people after these hours, but without alcohol.
  • Pubs and restaurants will still be able to serve people outside, subject to the current rules.

In five areas – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, the Lothians, Ayrshire and Arran and Forth Valley – all licensed premises, with the exception of hotels for residents, must close both indoors and outdoors, although takeaways will be permitted. People living in those five areas are also being asked not to travel outside the area unless they have to, although they do not have to cancel half-term holidays they have already booked.

In addition, regulations will be introduced to extend the mandatory use of face coverings in indoor communal settings such as staff canteens and corridors in workplaces, and shops would be asked to return to 2-metre physical distancing and to reintroduce one-way systems.

The Scottish Government will provide £40m to support affected businesses.

  • International Travel Taskforce

Government has announced the creation of the Global Travel Taskforce, headed by the Transport and Health Secretaries, to look at the implementation of a test and release scheme for international arrivals. The Taskforce will look at how such a scheme could be implemented and is also being asked to look at international travel more widely, including international testing pilots to see whether self-isolation could be undertaken pre-departure, consider creative solutions to boost tourism through non-testing means like travel bubbles as well as increasing consumer confidence. The Taskforce will report back to the Prime Minister within a few weeks.

Here’s the Statement to Parliament

And here’s the Press Release

  • Guidance on Weddings Updated

The Guidance document for weddings and civil partnerships (including receptions) has been updated to include changes relating to rules on face coverings, distance between tables, singing in groups of more than 6, dancing, music volume and enforcement.

  • Delays in DFT Statistical Publications

DFT has announced that due to Coronavirus, it is having to delay the publication of some of its regular statistical publications. From a tourism perspective, the one of note is customer satisfaction with security clearance at airports.

  • Save Future Travel Petition

Here is a link to a parliamentary petition organised by the Save Future Travel for you to circulate to members for signing. The campaign being run by ABTA and UKinbound urges the Government to:

  • Adopt a fully regionalised quarantine policy
  • Introduce testing
  • Provide recovery grants for SMEs and other businesses that missed out on previous support
  • Review the Job Support Scheme to save travel jobs
  • Grant an APD holiday covering summer 2021

  • Baroness Doocey Questions

Baroness Doocey has been asking a range of questions in the Lords to support the Tourism industry including the following:

                Question:To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any, to compensate pubs, restaurants and bars for any revenue lost as a result of the introduction of a 10pm closing time. (HL8412)

Answer: Lord Agnew of Oulton:

The Government recognises that the necessary restrictions on opening hours for hospitality venues will be disruptive for businesses in this sector.

We recognise that the sector is a vital source of employment across the country, and that is why – in addition to the CJRS, tax deferrals and loans – we have prioritised support for hospitality businesses. This has included:

  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England
  • The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund
  • The Eat Out to Help Out Scheme, which subsidised 100 million meals through August
  • A temporary reduction in the VAT rate from 20% to 5% on most tourism and hospitality-related activities.

On 24 September the Chancellor set out the next phase of our plan to support the economy, following announcement of measures to control the spread of COVID-19. This is a targeted package of measures to support jobs and business through the winter months, including a new Job Support Scheme, an extension of the reduction in VAT (5%) for the tourism and hospitality sector to 31 March 2021, and changes to the existing government backed loan schemes to help business access the finance they need and plan their cashflow.

The Government is continuing to collect evidence on the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector and to work with businesses and representative groups to inform our efforts to support this sector.

Date and time of answer: 07 Oct 2020 at 14:48.

Question:To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the financial impact on the hospitality sector of the decision to not permit conferences, exhibitions and events to take place. (HL8411)

Answer: Baroness Barran:

We recognise that the events industry and its supply chain has been severely impacted by Covid-19. We continue to engage with the stakeholders, including through the Visitor Economy Working Group and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Advisory Panel, to monitor the situation. As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, our decisions have been and will continue to be based on scientific evidence and public health assessments.

Events businesses can continue to make use of the broader support package available to them. This includes the Bounce Back Loans scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Meetings of up to 30 can still take place in permitted venues, as per the Covid-19 Secure guidance for the visitor economy.

Date and time of answer: 05 Oct 2020 at 12:21.

                Question: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they plan to take to address concerns from the tourism industry, including from tour operators, about employees who are unable to meet the requirement to work at l               east 33 per cent of their usual hours to qualify for support from the Job Support Scheme. (HL8514)

Answer: Baroness Barran:

We recognise that these are extremely challenging conditions for businesses in the tourism sector, including tour operators. We continue to closely monitor the situation. While it will not be possible to preserve every job or business, the Chancellor’s recent package of targeted measures will help businesses to protect jobs and manage their finances in the face of reduced or uncertain demand. Tour operators have been able to access the Government’s comprehensive economic support package, which includes the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme until the end of October. It also includes a significant cut to VAT for most tourism and hospitality activities until the end of March. We are offering impacted businesses generous terms for the repayment of deferred taxes and government-backed loans, as well as extending the application window of the government-backed loan schemes. We are continuing to engage across Government and with stakeholders to assess how we can most effectively support the recovery of tourism across the UK.

Date and time of answer: 05 Oct 2020 at 12:18.

  • Today’s PMQs

Speaking of questions, there were a range of tourism related questions at PMQs today:

Starmer – stated that next week MPs will vote on the 10pm closing time rule. Is there a scientific basis for it? If there is, will the government publish it?

Johnson – replied the basis for it is the same as it was when Labour backed it two weeks ago. 

Andrew Jones –  asked will the events industry be offered a support package

Johnson – said it is a very important industry and that here is already support available. But the best solution would be to have a testing system that can allow conferences to take place and theatres to open

Maria Eagle –  asked if the PM agrees that tighter local lockdown restrictions should trigger automatic local support schemes. And will he agree one for Merseyside as a matter of urgency?

Johnson – said he shares the concern about the loss of jobs but he has already given money to councils and it will continue to put its arms around communities.

Liz Twist – said restrictions in the north-east are making it uneconomical for businesses to stay open. What will the government do to help, and to protect the 80,000 jobs in the hospitality industry? And will he meet local leaders?

Johnson – said that the government will continue to offer support.

I mentioned in the update that the Government had announced that it had set up a Global Travel Taskforce. The Government has now published the Statement to parliament and press release associated with this which provide further details.

Here’s the Statement to Parliament

And here’s the Press Release
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