- Restaurants, pubs and hotels will reman closed for at least another three weeks - and likely much longer - after the Government announced a three-week extension to the UK’s lockdown period. At a Downing Street press conference on Thursday (16 March), Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab didn’t give a specific date for when the lockdown measures would be lifted but warned that lifting the lockdown too early ‘would require an even longer period’ of lockdown restrictions.
- London Union’s Jonathan Downey is to submit a formal proposal to the Treasury next week for his #NationalTimeOut campaign. The proposal, which will be signed by CEOs and other senior figures from across the hospitality industry, will lay out his plans for a nine-month rent-free period for hospitality, leisure and retail businesses to provide them with some respite during the Coronavirus pandemic. Downey is calling for a national rent-free period to push back the next nine months of rent (from April-December), so that nobody pays anything until the first quarter of next year, when he says rental payments will resume as normal.
- Two of the UK's biggest fast food operators, KFC and Burger King, have begun reopening a select number of sites as delivery-only kitchens. KFC has reopened 11 of its UK sites; while Burger King is set to reopen four of its restaurants in the coming days. Both will be serving limited menus, and implementing social distancing procedures in the workplace to protect staff members. The two operators have each said that further reopenings are planned in the coming weeks.
- Meanwhile, Pret A Manger has reopened 10 of its London stores following requests from a number of NHS workers. All 10 sites have been chosen because of their proximity to hospitals in the capital, and include locations in Vauxhall; Bloomsbury; Tooting; South Kensington; and Fitzrovia. Takeaway and delivery will both be available, with a limited menu of sandwiches, salads, drinks, and snacks being served; alongside a selection of essential grocery items including milk, butter, and tea.
- A landmark High Court order has provided further clarity regarding how administrators should utilise the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) for employees whose employer has entered insolvency proceedings. The legal clarification was made in relation to those employed by Italian chain Carluccio’s, after administrators feared that they would have to make a number of staff members, who had not responded to a letter regarding changes to their contracts, redundant. Under normal insolvency rules, administrators have to dismiss workers within 14 days of their appointment in order to avoid liability for their employment and wages. However, in the absence of Government guidance on the issue, the High Court ruled it was in the interest of the company and its employees to allow the administrators to extend this 14-day period.
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