- Wales. First Minster, Mark Drakeford, today announced that a number of tourism and holiday sectors, including indoor attractions, could re-open on Monday. This does not unfortunately include amusement arcades. The reasons it seems are associated with arcades being perceived as an indoor environment – which immediately begs the question why indoor attractions are good to go. I and Welsh members are in a state of despair with a Welsh Government that seems unable to engage meaningfully on any of the issues we have put to them. Nevertheless we are continuing to argue for the earliest possible opening date. Pubs are also to stay closed in Wales until 3rd August (subject to the usual caveats) although outside food and drink consumption will be allowed from next week. For Welsh members I attach the Welsh version of our Guidance and risk assessment, which has also been submitted (again) to the WG. Wales Chairman, Richard Case will be appearing on ITV News on Monday.
- Scotland. We still have not had absolute clarity from the Scottish Government as to when amusement arcades can open. We are lobbying very hard on this and have another meeting next Tuesday with relevant officials. We are hoping we still might get the all clear for 15th but it is increasingly looking unlikely. I appreciate just how frustrating this is for members.
- Bowling Alleys. A number of members will have bowling alleys or bowling lanes within their premises. These are still required to be closed and no date has been indicated as to when they might re-open. We are supporting efforts to get them re-opened as soon as possible and suggesting affected members write to their MPs on this. All members are requested to sign a petition organised by the bowling alley trade body the TBPA, by clicking here https://www.gotenpin.co.uk/sign-our-petition. Our position on ‘mini’ bowling is that if it is an integral part of the FEC offer it can be open if the proper risk assessment is undertaken and mitigation measures put in place.
All members of Division 1 and 3, whether you are open or not, are invited to a Zoom call on Tuesday morning 14th at 11.00 a.m. (Division 1) and 11.00 a.m. on Thursday 16th (Division 3). Sarah will be sending you registration details shortly but please put the dates in your diary. We hope to share experiences of the first week of opening and catch up on the latest political developments around re-opening. It would also be good to hear members experience of implementing our sector guidance.
Furlough – we have heard back from the Treasury regarding our enquiry over whether or not staff costs could be claimed for a less than three week furlough when straddling the July 1st scheme revision date. Here is the reply in full:
To be eligible to claim for any period prior to 30 June the minimum claim period still applies, so the employee must be furloughed for at least 21 days – even if they have been furloughed for 3 weeks previously. They do not need to work one week in-between furloughs.The three week period can extend beyond 30 June, so if an employee is furloughed on 15 June they will still be eligible for the dates 15-30 June, as long as they don’t return to work prior to 5 July. To be eligible for CJRS-2 from 1 July, an employee must have been furloughed for 21 days prior to 30th June.
VAT Cut – As you know the Government’s much heralded support for the especially hard hit Tourism sector this amounted to a VAT cut to 5% for accommodation and visitor attraction entry tickets. Hopefully that might encourage some extra footfall to members’ businesses but what should have been announced was a VAT cut for all tourism businesses. The more I have reflected on this the more annoyed I have become at words once again not matching actions. We have written to the Chancellor to point out that seaside arcades are one of the mainstays of British Tourism and absolutely need extra support if we are going to get through the winter. We are also going to run a Save Our Seaside campaign through to the Budget in the Autumn focussing on a VAT cut to 5%, an MGD cut to 5% and on going business rates relief through to 2022.
I have also had it confirmed today that the 5% VAT rate will apply to takeaway food.
Eat out to Help Out – also just to confirm, the Government’s voucher scheme also announced this week, will not cover takeaway food.
Machines in Pubs – Following my note yesterday that the Home Office has written to Police Forces stating that it is OK for pool tables to be used in pubs, a member asked about darts. Once again the pub guidance is silent on this but the pub sector has issued advice that, like pool and other machines, it is perfectly OK for pubs to offer darts. The provision of darts must be risk assessed and risk mitigation measures put in place. If any member is still having difficulties with police or local authorities over the use of machines in pubs please let me know. Reports from single site operators suggests this issue is settling down.
I hope everyone has a good weekend. The weather looks like it will be better this weekend than last and that will hopefully get a few more customers out. Please remember to follow our sector guidance. I spoke to Radio 5 today. There is no doubt the media is watching us and if anyone is playing fast and loose with our commitments we will lose our credibility as a professional and respected trade body. That will not help us lobby for changes to amongst other things, the Gambling Act. Our guidance applies to members and non-members alike. Please let me know if you see anything that isn’t up to scratch.
Bacta-Re-Opening-Guidance-for-FECs-and-AGCs-v4.0-Wales.docx (66 downloads)