Coronavirus Update – 22 November 2020
We’re well into the second UK lockdown now, and concerns are still being raised over tier-systems, financial support, and other important issues. With the lockdown scheduled to end on December 2nd, I think it’s safe to say we’re all watching to see whether this remains the case, or if the rules will go on into December and possibly over the festive period.
This week, we’ve put together the latest news affecting the Hospitality industry, that you need to know about.
With hugely positive results across all demographics, the Pfizer vaccine is paving the way for new, effective medicines which could give coronavirus immunity for years. UK Researchers are also looking at developing a nasal spray that protects against Covid, further information on this project and a potential release date is not currently available.
HMRC has said it will be writing to around 4,000 businesses to ask them to check their claims, as they are now undergoing post-payment compliance checks. The letter states that overpaid payments paid voluntarily, will not be subject to penalties.
Claimants have 60 days to respond or HMRC could start formal compliance checks involving statutory interest and penalties. It is expected that some businesses will be required to provide evidence of their eligibility and their calculations, regardless of whether the claims were correct at the time of application or not.
Industry representatives have warned that more than 70% of pub and hospitality businesses could become unviable and close in 2021 as a result of the Covid pandemic.
The research conducted by hospitality marketing research company CGA also found that only 25% of operators said they could turn a profit under the current tier-system and that 76% stated their business would be unviable or operating at a loss.
According to recent research by Lumina Intelligence, 64% of branded operators across England are still open, compared to the 19% that stayed open during the initial March lockdown. Of the businesses that have remained open, dessert parlours and fast-food operators make up the highest numbers, whilst pubs, bars and restaurants represent the lowest.
The increase in opening is attributed to innovation and creativity as operators work tirelessly to continue offering their services during lockdown.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Public Health England, spoke at a briefing in Downing Street, stating that she was keen for Christmas to be as normal as possible – but any increase in social contact over the period would have to be followed by more restrictions. Public Health England states that “for every one day of relaxation, five days of tighter restrictions would potentially be needed.”
It is anticipated that this need for closer restriction will dramatically impact the amount of time available for society to operate ‘as normal’ in the run-up to Christmas, with businesses having a very small window of opportunity to attract customers.
We’ll keep monitoring the news and bringing you the latest stories and information you need to know, so check back soon to see what else we’ve got for you!