A quick guide to reopening for leisure and tourism
What a difference! Just weeks ago, our coastal towns were silenced under the UK-wide lockdown and now life is coming back to some of the nation’s favourite seaside resorts, albeit with a few caveats.
Businesses which were quick to reopen will likely have a breadth of measures in place to protect employees and customers from the spread of COVID-19. Others, which may have been more cautious or were held back by restrictions that affected their specific business type, will be working hard to make their operations COVID safe to make the most of the impending summer holidays.
We know that more businesses and workplaces will be able to reopen from the start of August, including bowling alleys, skating rinks, casinos and beauticians as we slowly but surely edge closer to normality.
Whether you’re already stocked up on PPE or not, I advise all business owners carefully read the government’s guidance for each sector and make sure you’re following every step you should. We also recommend speaking to one another (while two metres apart and ideally outside, of course) to share best practice or to a business adviser who can offer professional guidance.
While it would be wonderful if every business could now thrive unaided after this kind of disruption, I expect the majority of businesses will be seeking some level of government support. Fortunately, there are now many measures which can be accessed to help you to stay in business through what has been, and will continue to be, a very difficult time.
To support leisure sites which are now able to reopen, several changes have been made to help businesses to make better use of outdoor spaces. These steps include:
- simpler and more affordable licensing processes for outdoor seating and stalls to make it easier for people to safely drink and dine outside;
- temporary changes to licensing laws that enable licensed premises including pubs and restaurants to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises; and
- pubs and restaurants will now be able to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas under their existing seating licenses.
There are also proposed planning freedoms to enable outdoor markets, car boot sales and summer fairs to operate without a planning application. Additionally, the consultation period for applications for pavement licenses has also been reduced from 28 calendar days to five working days, with consent granted after 10 days if the council fails to issue a decision. The application fee for a pavement and street cafe license has also been lowered.
In addition to these, there are several new financial support measures which should benefit the hospitality and leisure sector; one of the biggest being the new ‘Eat Out to Help Out Scheme’, offering restaurant diners a 50% discount on midweek meals throughout August, courtesy of the government. There is also the sizeable cut in VAT to 5% for a wide range of hospitality services until 12 January 2021, and all eligible businesses which bring back and retain their furloughed workers until 31 January 2021 will be entitled to receive a £1,000 bonus.
These measures, combined with the pre-existing support, will be of great help to a sector which is so important to our local economy, but I know it won’t be the solution to all the challenges you’ll face.
This summer will be difficult, and the additional costs and lost income so far will be hard to overcome, but things can only get better. We just need to help each other out, stay safe, be creative and adapt to make the most of the new normal that’s ahead of us.
Fingers crossed, this could still be a great summer after all!