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.

- Pressure is mounting on the Government to both extend its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), and amend elements of it to allow for flexibility. According to a survey commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), employers want to see the JRS made more flexible​ to allow furloughed staff to work reduced hours, and for the scheme to be extended until at least the end of September. Without these changes, the CIPD warns the current JRS could prove to be a ‘waiting room for unemployment’, and fail to protect significant numbers of the jobs it set out to save.

- Meanwhile, D&D London chairman and CEO Des Gunewardena has written to the Chancellor to lobby the inclusion of tronc payments in the UK furlough scheme​, after revealing that some UK staff are only receiving around 50% of their normal earnings through the JRS. In the letter, entitled ‘Restaurant staff, valued in New York & Paris, sadly not in London’, Gunewardena outlines the different approaches governments across the world are taking to supporting their hospitality workers. He says that staff in France and the US, where D&D also operates restaurants, have been given a much fairer deal than those in the UK.

- West London restaurant Sam's Riverside has sold over £40,000 worth of gift vouchers​ following a fundraising drive on GoFundMe. Launched by Sam Harrison late last year, the Hammersmith restaurant is offering purchasers a 10% alongside a few other incentives including a bottle of Provencal rosé for anyone that pledges over £200. "I don't know what I expected. I think I said to my business partner that it would be incredible to get £10,000," says Harrison. "We're very touched as the restaurant is only four months old. For me one of the greatest joys of restaurants is that customers buy into them and like to get behind them. They need us and we need them."

- The UK CEO of McDonald’s, Paul Pomroy, has said the fast food chain is carrying out a series of behind-closed-doors tests​ this week in preparation for reopening some of its sites. In a statement, Pomroy said McDonald’s had decided to close its restaurants temporarily last month to protect the safety of its staff and customers, but had recently begun looking at a ‘potential and limited reopening’. “We have been listening to our employees and customers as well as engaging with government and trade bodies to help ensure we do this responsibly, when the time is right,” he said.

- Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new small business loan scheme​ that will come with a 100% state-backed guarantee. The so-called “bounce back loans” will be available from  Monday (4 May), and give the UK’s smallest businesses guaranteed access to loans worth 25% of their turnover, up to £50,000. According to Sunak, there will be no forward-looking tests of business viability or complex eligibility criteria that applicants will have to meet, and most firms applying through the scheme should be able to receive the funds within 24 hours. The loans will be 100% guaranteed by the Treasury, and interest on the loans will be paid by the Government for the first 12 months.

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

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