5th May 2020
As we come to another week under lockdown all eyes are now focused on re-opening AGCs, FECs and pubs. Nevertheless relevant announcements and developments keep emerging on the back of lobbying by bacta and wider industry voices. We are ‘mopping up’ the remaining issues on the grants and relief schemes in Scotland and Wales and now focusing heavily on getting the devolved administrations’ reopening plans to include the earliest and safest possible opening of members’ premises. We will see how successful we have been around the 18th June when the next slew of announcements are due.
In England AGCs will reopen on June 15th.
I am frequently asked when FECs will be allowed to open. All we know for certain it is going to be on or after 4th July. A number of companies are planning for the 4th July but we have nothing definite, and no clues, on Government thinking at this time.
One bit of encouraging news on the extra Bank Holiday idea we and others have proposed – this received endorsement from the DCMS Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden, at yesterday’s Departmental oral questions. He said he thought it was a great idea. Whilst a devolved matter it is likely Scotland, Wales and NI would agree to this. Bacta has called for this BH to be in late September or early October as well as calling for an extension of the October half-term to two weeks in order to extend the season and double capacity for those one would hope want a holiday after the lockdown. We have written to several parts of government to explain the common sense of our thoughts.
It was also encouraging to see this week that Boris Johnson at his Tuesday press briefing said that government was working on ideas about how best to support seasonal businesses through the winter months. As I have said before the issues for these businesses are well understood and we have made a strong case for various measures to be extended well into 2021 to support our members with seasonal businesses get through to next Easter. We will be discussing this with DCMS again later today.
Whenever members re-open I must emphasise the need for a robust Covid-19 risk assessment to be undertaken. Whatever size of company you have I recommend you write it down. It is likely local authorities will want to see it. We have provided a template for members to use but please read all the guidance we have directed you to. We are hosting a member-only Webinar on Risk Assessments next Tuesday 9th at 11.00 a.m. You can register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3152721357085852940 if you have not already done so.
Can I also please ask members to keep feeding back to me any information about how the various government support schemes have landed on the ground. This is so valuable in our conversations with the Government. It is the evidence that supports the arguments we make. The Chancellor is going to make a financial statement in early July. Treasury needs this feedback to make decisions about what it is going to do with the various support schemes as we move into the Autumn.
Finally, on Business Interruption Insurance, the links I sent out earlier in the week to the FCA website didn’t work. Here is a link to their holding page on BII insurance. As you know the FCA is taking a test case to get legal clarity on the wording of certain BII clauses. This has already had the effect of softening some insurance companies’ positions according to reports. The court case is expected to be heard in July. Click here for details https://www.fca.org.uk/news/statements/business-interruption-insurance-during-coronavirus