Coronavirus: Insurance, Commercial Rent and Planning Regulations
Business Interruption Insurance
Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17th March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim.
- Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.
- Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.
Support With Commercial Rent
MHCLG announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. This is included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, and will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months.
Relaxation On Rules For Businesses
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have produced a list of 15 rules that have been temporarily relaxed to make it easier for businesses to continue working through the disruption caused by Covid-19. These include:
- Destroying spoilt beer: Temporary measure to help brewers and publicans
- Eviction protection for commercial tenants: A ban on eviction for businesses who cannot pay their rent.
- Pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways: Pubs and restaurants will not need planning permission.
- Hotel accommodation for key workers: Letter to hotel chief executives allowing them to offer accommodation to support key workers and vulnerable people.
There changes being made to the current ‘Tables and Chairs (T&C) licence’ that is soon to become a ‘Pavement licence’.
This change will be introduced by the new Business and Planning Bill that will only be in place until the end of September 2021 to deal with the current situation. The purpose of the pavement licence is to help businesses and high streets recover and regenerate post-COVID as well as help businesses comply with social distancing regulations whilst still being able to trade.
What this means for businesses:
- All businesses with an existing T&C licence issued by KCC Highways should have received details from KCC of new conditions of their licence in regard to social distancing etc.
- Businesses need to follow these conditions. From 4th July, District and Borough representatives are able to approach businesses if they are not following these new conditions and they may need to ask them to rearrange their tables and chairs. This devolution of enforcement powers has been agreed between KCC and the Districts.
- If a business has an existing T&C licence, then it remains valid until it expires. Upon expiry, they will need to apply for a Pavement licence from their local District or Borough.
- For new applicants, District and Boroughs are not quite ready to issue Pavement licences yet but they hope to go live in about 3 weeks’ time. KCC will still be consulted on licence applications but KCC Highways and districts are working together to make the consultation process quick and efficient and KCC is supporting Districts in the handover of the responsibility for these licences.
- There is no point in businesses applying to KCC for a new T&C licence from now as it won’t be processed and they will be issued a refund.