Government & Industry Updates

Situation update: correct as of 17.00 04 June 2020

  • Daily Government press briefing Toggle accordion content

    Today’s briefing was led by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. He was joined by Sir Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail. Along with the health and testing update, Shapps made three points on public transport. First, if you can work from home, you should do so, If you can’t, you should try to avoid the rush hour. From 15 June face coverings will be mandatory on public transport - this will apply to buses, trains, aircraft and ferries. People will be refused travel if they do not comply.

    During the Q&A the first question came from a member of the public who asked about travel companies refusing to give people refunds for cancelled trips. Shapps said travel companies do have a responsibility to pay the money back. Trading standards can look into breaches, he said and he will be encouraging companies to pay people back. It is not acceptable for them to just hold on to people’s money.

    The Metro newspaper asked whether there had been a discussion with the devolved administrations about face masks on public transport. Would people be boarding trains without a mask in Scotland and putting it on when they cross the border? Shapps said this is a measure for England. He says it is up to the devolved administrations to decide what they do. He said normally countries decide to move together, so he does not think we will end up with a confusing situation for passengers. Hendy said that he would expect passengers to be wearing masks when they get on a train, and again when they get off. He was also asked what message would you give to people thinking of going to the coast this weekend? And what help are you providing for the hospitality industry? Shapps says the cooler weather will help. But the message remains the same; stay alert means keep two metres away from people, As for the hospitality industry, the government has stood behind companies. But the best way to help them is by defeating the virus. When asked whether tourist locations, like Blackpool, are at particular risk from coronavirus when lockdown is relaxed? Shapps says, to answer that question, we need to know how the virus will continue to spread. There is a danger of people getting complacent, he says. But the virus is still very much with us.

    You can watch the full briefing here.

    Earlier today in the House of Commons, MPs raised a series of questions with the Government with regards to the tourism sector. Key points from their discussion:

    • Conservative MPs Tim Loughton, Cherilyn Mackrory and Dr James Davies asked the Secretary of State what steps his Department is taking to help the tourism sector to reopen safely after lockdown restrictions are eased. Oliver Dowden said a cultural renewal taskforce had been set up to help the tourism industry reopen safely and outlined the 4 July target. Following this, Mr Loughton asked if flexibility would be granted to allow the industry to reopen sooner, and whether VAT would be reduced for the industry? In reply, Mr Dowden outlined the Job Retention Scheme and said further measures would be considered.
    • Cherilyn Mackrory said the tourism sector supported one in five jobs in Cornwall and asked for assurances that the Government would promote Cornwall as a world-class tourist destination, once safe to do so. Dowden said they were hoping to get tourism back as soon as safely possible and would be encouraging British people to take "staycations".
    • James Davies asked if the Government would support VisitBritain’s call for an October Bank Holiday. Dowden said he thought it was an excellent idea and noted he was discussing the proposals with BEIS.
    • Gavin Newlands (SNP) highlighted the plight of the tourism sector and asked if an extension to the Job Retention Scheme and an extension to the transition period would be granted to help it. Dowden said the scheme had already been extended and said the transition period would not be extended.
    • Rupa Huq (Labour) asked if the Government would introduce a scheme to allow holiday home lets to restart as soon as possible. Responding, Dowden said he hoped that the tourist sector would be able to begin to reopen from 4 July and that he hoped self-catering accommodation would be at the front of the queue.

     

    A full readout of the MPs’ tourism-related discussion is available here.

  • Trade Credit Insurance backed by £10 billion guarantee Toggle accordion content

    The Government has announced that Trade Credit Insurance, which provides cover to business-to-business transactions, will receive up to £10 billion of government guarantees. The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme, which has been agreed with the insurance sector, will see the vast majority of Trade Credit Insurance coverage maintained across the UK. The guarantees will support supply chains and help businesses to trade during the coronavirus pandemic and continue to be protected if a customer defaults or delays on payment. The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and available from insurers operating in the UK market. Please see further information here.

  • Travel industry updates Toggle accordion content
    • WTM London will take place at the ExCeL convention centre from 2-4 November.
    • London City Airport will resume domestic commercial flights at the end of June, with international flights to follow in early July.
    • Virgin Atlantic will resume passenger flights from London Heathrow to Orlando, Los Angeles, New York JFK, Hong Kong and Shanghai on 20 and 21 July.
    • Eastern Airways will resume service from Southampton Airport to Aberdeen, Belfast City, Dublin, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds Bradford and Teesside from 22 June.
  • Work of the Visitor Economy Working Group Toggle accordion content

    The Tourism Industry Council has been turned into the Visitor Economy Working Group and been given the task of co-ordinating the guidance for tourism and hospitality businesses that will allow them to operate in a safe and secure manner when they open from 4th July. This work is progressing extremely well with a huge amount of effort and co-ordination between DCMS, VE and the Industry. The situation at the moment is as follows:

      • DCMS is producing the top line guidance on what businesses need to do in terms of undertaking a risk assessment of their business and implementing cleaning and social distancing regimes that allow them to operate safely
      • The industry is producing a series of detailed protocols for different businesses types across the sector which takes this top line guidance and tell businesses how to operationalise it. For example, the top line guidance will say that rooms have to be thoroughly cleaned between changeovers and the protocols will explain how to do this
      • VE is developing a system whereby business can, on lodging their risk assessment, get a Mark that can be used to show customers that they are operating in accordance with Government guidance

     

    It is planned that all three of these elements will be available to businesses around the 15th June. This will give businesses almost three weeks to digest the information, undertake the risk assessment and register it with VE, implement the appropriate cleaning and social distancing systems, and use the Mark in promotional activities.

  • Work of the Visitor Economy Working Group Toggle accordion content

    The Tourism Industry Council has been turned into the Visitor Economy Working Group and been given the task of co-ordinating the guidance for tourism and hospitality businesses that will allow them to operate in a safe and secure manner when they open from 4th July. This work is progressing extremely well with a huge amount of effort and co-ordination between DCMS, VE and the Industry. The situation at the moment is as follows:

      • DCMS is producing the top line guidance on what businesses need to do in terms of undertaking a risk assessment of their business and implementing cleaning and social distancing regimes that allow them to operate safely
      • The industry is producing a series of detailed protocols for different businesses types across the sector which takes this top line guidance and tell businesses how to operationalise it. For example, the top line guidance will say that rooms have to be thoroughly cleaned between changeovers and the protocols will explain how to do this
      • VE is developing a system whereby business can, on lodging their risk assessment, get a Mark that can be used to show customers that they are operating in accordance with Government guidance

     

    It is planned that all three of these elements will be available to businesses around the 15th June. This will give businesses almost three weeks to digest the information, undertake the risk assessment and register it with VE, implement the appropriate cleaning and social distancing systems, and use the Mark in promotional activities.

  • HMRC Coronavirus Webinars Toggle accordion content

    Coronavirus COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme: Providing an overview of the scheme, this webinar looks at who can claim, when to start paying SSP, employees you can claim for, making a claim, keeping records, and more. Choose a date and time

    Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – How to make a claim: This guides you through making a claim, including the essential information you need, what to do before you make your claim, calculating and processing your claim. Choose a date and time

 

Formation of Cultural Renewal Taskforce

Representatives from the arts, culture and sporting sectors have joined a new Cultural Renewal Taskforce to advise on the safe reopening of the country’s recreation and leisure industries.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme opens for claims on 26 May

Small and medium-sized employers will be able to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees through an online portal from 26 May. Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.  Repayments will be at the relevant rate of SSP that has been paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of employers. Guidance on making a claim is available on Gov.uk.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) loan size increased

The Government has extended the maximum loan size available through CLBILS from £50 million to £200 million. The change is to help larger firms who do not qualify for the Bank of England’s COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). The expanded loans will be available from 26 May. Companies that receive help through CLBILS and the Bank of England’s Coronavirus Corporate Financing Fund will be asked to agree to not pay dividends and to exercise restraint on senior pay.

Latest Government updates

  • The Government has provided further guidance for outdoor facilities on the phased return of sport and reaction in England, you can read more here.
  • The Government has unlocked £150 million from dormant accounts to support charities, social enterprises and vulnerable individuals.
  • BEIS has introduced the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill in Parliament. Measures in the new Bill will:
    • Apply temporary easements on filing requirements and Annual General Meetings (AGMs), including deadline extension.
    • Introduce new corporate restructuring tools to the insolvency regime
    • Temporarily suspend parts of insolvency law to support directors
  • The Government has produced an update on eligibility for the furlough scheme that clarifies that eligibility depends on employment on or after certain dates. Specifically, this clarifies situations where employers:
    • Made employees redundant or they stopped workinng for you on or after 28 February 2020
    • Made employees redudant or they stopped working for you on or after 19 March 2020
    • Employ someone ona fixed term contract
  • The Competition and Markets Authority has established a taskforce to identify, monitor and respond to competition and consumer problems arising from coronavirus and the measures taken to contain it. They have just published their first report on some of the work of the Taskforce, focusing on the complaints they have received and the actions they have taken in response. While three sectors were initially prioritised: holiday accommodation; weddings and private events; and nursery and childcare providers, but because of the number and nature of complaints being received, package holidays has now been included in the scope of the investigation.  This report is an analysis of the complaints the CMA has received so far rather than the findings or actions to be taken but it does provide a very good indication of the issues that they are looking at.
  • The Environment Agency has published guidance stating that the public can now do all non-powered water sports on EA waterways and some waterways will be ready for leisure cruising as early as this week, with the rest by 1 June, unless hazards in the waterways prevent us from doing so. From the 1 June, normal time restrictions for our short stay moorings will be in place again, meaning that people currently moored on short stay moorings will need to resume continuous cruising or return to their permanent mooring.
  • Social Distancing and WHO – 1m vs 2m.  One issue that has come to the fore recently is the issue of appropriate social distancing. In the UK the requirement is 2m between individuals whereas the WHO guidance is 1m and in countries like Germany and Australia the distance is 1.5m. The reason this distance is important for our industry is because if you halve the distance between people, the number of people you can fit in any given space increases four-fold. For example, under 2m distancing, only 25 people can fit in a 10m by 10m pub. However, under 1m distancing, 100 people can fit in the same space. This has significant implications on the financial viability of businesses when they are able to reopen.

Travel updates

  • Visa extensions for those unable to leave the UK because of coronavirus have been extended to 31 July 2020.

  • EasyJet has announced they will resume flying a small number of domestic flights on 15 June from 22 European airports, including 10 in the UK. Enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures will be in place. Domestic flights will service London Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Belfast and Isle of Man.There will also be a route between the London Gatwick and Nice.

  • Heathrow Airport has launched a temperature screening trial, using thermal screening technology to detect elevated temperatures of arriving passengers in Terminal 2. Learnings from the trial will inform the creation of a Common International Standard for health screenings in the travel sector.
  • Delta Airlines will resume flights between the US and the UK on 21 May, flying three weekly trips between Detroit and London Heathrow. The routes will carry cargo, but are also open to passengers.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has extended the suspension of all sailings through 31 July across its three brands – Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas.
  • IHG Hotels & Resorts have outlined their Clean Promise, a programme of enhanced cleaning protocols developed with hygiene and medical experts at Ecolab, Divesey and the Cleveland Clinic.