4th July 2020
- Firstly can I wish all members in England who are now open all the best for the weekend and the coming few weeks and months. It’s been a tough three and a half months. Thank you once again for your support with all the lobbying and feedback. I attach the final version of the bacta sector guidance signed off last night by the Cabinet Office for your information. There are no material changes to Version 4.0 sent to you earlier in the week, just a few bits of wording. We will keep the document under review. A number of members have been asking about food and drink now that cafe’s are open. I will discuss this with DCMS next week. A copy of the Guidance will be on the bacta website.
- For members with seasonal businesses it is worth taking a look at a new government ‘kickstart’ grant for SME tourism businesses of up to £5k to support adjustments to operating in the post crisis environment. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-10-million-for-small-businesses-to-kickstart-tourism?utm_source=1b97034c-7288-403a-84e8-e1e00c01cbf5&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
- We have been lobbying actively to get clarity on re-opening dates following Kate Forbes indication that arcades would not be open before 23rd July. We have pushed backed directly and via Fergus Ewing and hopefully members have been able to build some momentum through letters to MSPs. We have also heard that the question of rates relief is still sitting with Ministers. We are also pushing hard for clarity on this, Scotland Region Chairman, Joseph Cullis, yesterday wrote direct to the lead official on the rates issue to make it clear that business will fold if relief is not granted.
- There is even less clarity on re-opening in Wales where First Minister, Mark Drakeford, seems to be taking an uber-cautious approach. On the grants issue we have clearly got under the skin of the WG this week receiving a pointed and unhelpful letter from the Head of Finance that clarified what we already knew – namely that local authorities have the discretion to determine whether to award grants or not. Local councils are taking this as confirmation that their decision to refuse is correct. We are seeking an urgent meeting with the Welsh Government in a last ditch attempt to get them to see sense. It is deeply frustrating when at all levels of government you cannot have a rational conversation.
- PUBS – Although currently a matter only affecting England, we are getting increasing numbers of reports from Scotland and Wales that police forces and EHOs (as well as publicans) are demanding gaming machines are turned off and pool tables removed. This is categorically not a requirement contained in any Governments’ guidance in relation to the sector where it exists. Therefore it is perfectly OK to operate machines as long as a proper Covid-19 risk assessment has been undertaken and risks mitigated. We have provided guidance with the pubcos over the past couple of weeks indicating steps that can be taken to do just that.
- People are being told that pub customers must be seated. No they don’t. That again is guidance and of course people have to walk around to go to the toilet for example. A machine player will walk from their seat to the machine, remain stationary when playing and will be facing away from other customers. A stool can be provided. They will then walk back to their seat. A machine away from any pinch points and cleaned after each use is a lower risk than other surfaces in the pub.
- Pool tables. Some police and EHOs are interpreting the ban on indoor sports as covering pool-tables. It doesn’t but it has been suggested therefore it is not in the spirit of the guidance. Again we would disagree. The guidance we have provided mitigates the risk from pool table use to the same level as other surfaces in the pub. Unhelpfully, some police forces have published their own guidance saying pool tables should not be used.
- Juke boxes – it has been suggested that walking to and touching the surface of a juke box presents a risk. It does, but this can be mitigated in exactly the same way as other risks to a level which is equal to or below that of other surfaces through regular cleaning. There is no problem with app based selection systems. The only requirement is to keep the volume down to discourage people form shouting or raising their voices.
- We are working with the UK Hospitality and the BBPA on this. I have also raised the matter informally with DCMS
As members are beginning to get up and running again, albeit in exceptional circumstances, bacta is bringing all remaining furloughed staff back to work from 13th July. This means all our Membership Support Officers will be able to help members with their enquiries and with training needs. I do however want to highlight that under our own Covid-19 Risk Assessments, Brad, Tony, Murray and David are not permitted to travel at this time to visit members. This will be kept under review. They will work from home and do as much as possible to help members via telephone and Zoom. I know they are keen to get out and see members personally, but it is our view that we should follow Government advice as they are able to work from home for now. Thank you for your understanding.
Finally please continue to get in touch with feedback. I am particularly keen to hear how the re-opening has gone in England and whether there any lessons we can learn and apply in Scotland and Wales.
Thank you and stay safe.
Bacta-Re-Opening-Guidance-for-FECs-and-AGCs-v4.1.pdf (274 downloads)