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Coronavirus Update – 04 December 2020

Coronavirus Update – 04 December 2020

We’re now into December, and 2021 is rapidly approaching. The UK lockdown came to an and has been replaced with the locally tiered measures. This doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet, with most of the country falling into the top two levels (Tier 1 and 2) – but it’s hoped to be a step in the right direction.

What’s the effect been on hospitality and F&B businesses? Here’s our round-up of the week:

Pubs and Licensed Venues Still Suffering Post-Lockdown

50,000 Pubs and Licensed Venues to Remain Closed as Lockdown Ends – According to research from CGA and AlixPartners, only 2,227 licensed premises (2% of the total number of pubs) are located in Tier 1 areas of England, 36,648 (39%) are in Tier 3 areas which have the strictest restrictions, and 59% are located in Tier 2 where alcoholic drinks are banned unless served with ‘substantial meals’.

It’s been suggested by figures from UKHospitality that around £7.8bn of revenue could be wiped out with the tier system in place compared to last December.

Graeme Smith, Managing Director of AlixPartners said, “The overwhelming majority of businesses in this sector are operating under crippling conditions and the Government’s latest offer of financial support for wet-led pubs appears unlikely to be sufficient to enable these businesses to survive.”

This comes as a stark contrast to the Lumina reports last week that predicted a 104% market growth and recovery for the industry in 2021. Their assertation that innovation and creativity from operators will drive the success is going to be more important than ever as limited funds and restrictions make business difficult. It will be worth looking at which venues expand out into restaurant-style dining or using 3rd party delivery services to sell their drinks with food.

How Much Food is Enough?

What is a Substantial Meal? No 10 Overrules Food Minister as Pubs Brace for Tier Change – With the ban on alcohol being subject to the provision of a ‘substantial meal’, there has been a considerable amount of confusion over what actually counts, which wasn’t helped when Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – George Eustice, MP was quoted as saying that a scotch egg “probably would count” but was later refuted by the Prime Minister’s Spokesman who insists that “bar snacks do not count.”

The guidelines define substantial meals as ‘a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal’ and was further clarified by the PM’s spokesman as, “a table meal is a meal eaten by a person seated at a table, or at a counter or other structure which serves the purpose of a table”

This ‘clarification’ is still open to a lot of interpretation, and the Local Government Association (LGA) has advised that sharing a meal among a large group probably wouldn’t meet the minimum standard.

When it comes to how many drinks can be ordered with the food, trade body Hospitality UK suggested it be left up to the venue to decide what was reasonable and responsible, however, this now needs to be considered with further guidance from the Spokesman who said drinkers will have to leave the premises once they’ve finished their food.

Between the uncertainty of what counts as substantial, the need to match food with drinks, curfews and limited individuals on-premises, Alastair Kerr from the Campaign for Pubs told Sky News that landlords would need to “operate a common-sense policy.”  

Tempers Fraying in Scotland and Hospitality Staff Taking the Brunt

Hospitality Staff in Level 2 Areas Suffering a ‘Torrent of Abuse’ – It’s been reported to MSPs that staff in some Level 2 areas of Scotland are facing antisocial behaviour from visitors who are turned away. Stephen Montgomery of the Scottish Hospitality Group says that it was due to travellers going from Level 4 to Level 2 areas, and that it is, “frankly unacceptable.”

The Scottish Government has condemned the incidents and stated that all its decisions are aimed at keeping people safe.

Owners, Managers and Operators need to be taking time to discuss these incidents with staff and having clear protocols in place, as well as making sure there is appropriate support for their employees physical and mental wellbeing during these stressful times.

Every Little Bit of Cash Helps

UK Hospitality Calls for Tesco’s £585m Grant Repayment to Create a Hospitality and Tourism Recovery Fund – After the announcement that supermarket giants Tesco will repay £585m of grant support to the government, there have been calls from UK Hospitality to have the funds earmarked to help hospitality and tourism businesses that remain at high risk of failure, that have been closed since March or have had no grant support thus far.

The money which was intended to support businesses, Kate Nicholls – CEO of UK Hospitality, believes should be provided to those in need, “A hospitality and tourism recovery fund, including rent support to preserve the future of our high streets, would deliver a huge boost to businesses that are only just clinging onto life right when they need it the most.”

With the Self Employed Income Support grant scheme having been extended and open to applications from the 30 November, it is certain that small and medium businesses will be keenly watching to ascertain whether the government will reinvest the funds into smaller companies, or use the returned grant for something else.

Dinner for the Disadvantaged

Caring Family Foundation Pledges 80,000 Meals to Children this Christmas – The ‘Food from the Heart’ Campaign, operated by the Caring Family Foundation which was founded by Caprice Holdings owner Richard Caring and his wife Patricia, launches this month and will continue to feed children in need into 2021.

The campaign was developed to help alleviate the ‘disastrous impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the existing growing problem of child food poverty across the UK.’

Partnering with hospitality charities FareShare and The Felix Project, meals will be delivered across the UK to children in most need, found through a nationwide conducted survey by Fareshare, in areas including Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool and Southampton.

There have been a number of prominent individuals, including Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, campaigning to see children fed during the pandemic, and with government representatives such as North Devon’s Selaine Saxby (one of the more than 300 Tory MPs who voted against extending free school meals to the UK’s poorest children during half term) stating that she very much hopes that businesses offering to feed hungry children for free will not be seeking any further government support, providing a frankly disgraceful counterpoint, it’s wonderful to see hospitality businesses and charities working together to bring food to those who need it most.

That’s it for the round-up this week, but we’ll keep a close watch on the top stories, news, and information – so make sure you check-in with us again! See you next week!

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