- Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that some parts of the hospitality industry could reopen in July. In a televised address to the nation, the PM begun to lay out the Government's 'conditional plan' for a gradual easing of the Coronavirus lockdown. Under the plans, some businesses within England's hospitality sector could be able to reopen in July "at the earliest", providing "they are safe and enforce social distancing”. While Johnson was not specific about which hospitality venues could reopen, the Government's subsequently released Covid-19 Recovery Strategy makes clear that any venues where social distancing will be difficult to carry out will not be able to open fully on that date.
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) will be extended by a further four months, until the end of October. Speaking in the House of Commons, the Chancellor said the Government believes in the dignity of work, and is doing all it can to protect people who cannot work. He confirmed that the JRS would be extended in its current form until the end of July, and then continue in August, September and October with "greater flexibility”. From August, firms will be able to bring staff back to work part time. However, from then they will also need to “share with the government the cost of paying salaries”, suggesting the level of state support will gradually be reduced.
- The Government has released new guidance to advise hospitality venues on how to operate a safe takeaway service. According to the measures, continued social distancing is paramount, with businesses encouraged to reduce the contact between kitchen, front of house and delivery workers, and to ask customers to wait in their car where possible. Increased hygiene practices are expected, including hand washing and surface cleaning; and businesses are urged to make regular announcements reminding customers to do the same. Laminated menus must also be cleaned regularly; paper menus should be disposed of after a single use; and contactless payment should be encouraged where possible.
- Uber is in talks to acquire rival online ordering company Grubhub in a deal that would give it a 50% share of the US food delivery market. According to a report from Bloomberg, the offer currently on the table is an all-stock takeover that would see Grubhub — which is currently valued at $4.5 billion — absorbed into Uber’s UberEats service. UberEats has approximately a 20% share of the US delivery app market, while Grubhub - which was founded in 2004 - has a 30% share. Grubhub doesn’t operate on these shores but the acquisition still has implications for the UK delivery market because it has the potential to make UberEats a far more powerful player globally.
- A campaign has been launched to safely re-start the UK hospitality industry by transforming public spaces and streets into al fresco dining spaces whilst adhering to physical distancing. Alan Lorrimer, founder of live music venues The Piano Works, is asking operators nationwide to support the UK Grand Outdoor Café campaign, which is calling on the government to issue a directive to grant local authorities a temporary deregulation to allow tables and chairs outside existing hospitality businesses. The idea is similar to an initiative in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, which has temporarily given public spaces to its restaurants and bars to help them comply with physical distancing rules.
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