Friday Five: The week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: The week's top news

Related tags: Coronavirus

As the Coronavirus crisis continues to dominate the headlines, we round-up some of the main stories regarding how it has affected the hospitality industry in the past week.

- The portal for making claims under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) has gone live, with more than 140,000 businesses making a claim under the scheme in the first day​. Employers can apply for a cash grant of up to 80% of a furloughed employee's wages (capped at £2,500 a month), with the Government saying the money for validated claims should be received within six working days. Initially the scheme was scheduled to be open for three months; backdated from the 1 March, and lasting until the end of May. However, it has since been extended until the end of June.

-  The Government’s chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, has made it clear that social distancing measures would be needed until at least the end of the year to prevent fresh Coronavirus outbreaks. Speaking earlier this week, he said it was important to be realistic that social distancing would need to be in place for “really quite a long period of time”. An extended period of social distancing could cost the hospitality sector between one and two million jobs​, according to leading voices within the industry. In a letter sent to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove MP, trade body UKHospitality has outlined a six-point plan to help the country’s hospitality businesses reopen following the Coronavirus crisis.

- More operators have begun reopening sites for delivery and takeaway. MEATliquor has reopened its East Dulwich restaurant​ in London with a limited menu that includes its signature Dead Hippie burger; French artisan bakery group Paul has reopened seven of its London sites​ for delivery and takeaway, with three more scheduled to open next week; and Five Guys has announced the partial reopening of its UK estate​ for delivery and takeaway, with seven further sites (alongside the 13 it initially kept operational through the lockdown) across the UK now open and offering a full menu.

- The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has announced it will be coordinating claims against the insurer Hiscox​ for refusing to pay out under its business interruption policy in relation to the Coronavirus crisis. The association’s CEO Michael Kill has instructed industry barrister Philip Kolvin QC to advise its members on their rights under their insurance policies, and to challenge Hixcox’s insurance claim denial. One of most high-profile condemnations against Hiscox from within the industry has come from chef Raymond Blanc, whose Brasserie Bar Co enlisted lawyers earlier this week​ after being denied a payout by the insurer.

- The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a crowdfunding initiative​ aimed at supporting small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across a variety of sectors including hospitality. Pay It Forward London offers SMEs based in the capital the opportunity to pre-sell their services while the Coronavirus shut down is ongoing. Businesses who wish to take part can do so by clicking here​, and members of the public can also ‘nominate’ their local businesses and encourage them to sign up.

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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