Renewed calls to relax two-metre rule and introduce Autumn bank holiday in APPG report

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Relax social distancing rule introduce Autumn bank holiday and cut VAT in APPG report Coronavirus

Related tags: ukhospitality, coronavirus, Report, Restaurant, Hospitality, Tourism

Just 11% of hospitality businesses have been able to operate normally during the Coronavirus lockdown according to a report from The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Hospitality and Tourism (APPG).

As a result, the APPG has put forward a series of recommendations to help support hospitality and tourism businesses as they prepare to reopen, which includes cutting tourism VAT; relaxing the two-metre social distancing rule; overhauling the business rates system; and creating an October bank holiday.

The report, published by trade body UKHospitality, follows in inquiry by the APPG, chaired by Steve Double MP, which collected testimony and written evidence from over 350 businesses, trade bodies and students’ unions.

It states that the hospitality and tourism sectors have been two of the hardest hit by the Coronavirus crisis, with the majority of businesses operating 'sub-economically' after they reopen.

A common framework will be required to ensure venues can operate safely it says, adding that a false start would be 'devastating' for both sectors.

In order to help ensure as many jobs as possible remain secure, the report calls for financial support from the Government to be extended until businesses are once again able to trade at a sustainable level.

There are also renewed demands within the report for the Government to consider relaxing the two metre social distancing rule; provide urgent action on rents; and undertake a comprehensive review of business costs.

“In every region of the UK, high streets in town and city centres have been almost entirely shuttered and normal life has been suspended," says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

“Hospitality and tourism were some of the first sectors to take a noticeable hit, even before lockdown began. The reality is that these sectors will also be two of the last to fully emerge and it will take time for employers to get back up to anywhere near full speed.

“If the Government is positive and decisive in delivering support for these sectors, then the job will be made much easier. Businesses will be saved and jobs all around the country kept secure. We hope that the Government acts on the recommendations in this report. Otherwise, the road back will be a long and hard one.”

The report also recommends that, in order to help promote domestic tourism in the months ahead, an October bank holiday should be created and a 10% cut in VAT implemented. 

It adds that the introduction of air bridges and cutting Air Passenger Duty would help boost inbound tourism, which the report says is likely to be down 30% for the year.

“The UK’s hospitality and tourism sectors have been devastated by the Covid-19 crisis, and this report highlights the scale of the damage done to businesses," says Double.

“These are two of the most important parts of our economy and our inquiry has highlighted the importance of supporting these vital sectors in both the immediate and long term.

“Whilst the support provided to the sector so far has been very welcomed, we are under no illusions that the path to recovery will be tough. This report and its recommendations provide the Government with a blueprint for supporting businesses.

“There is every reason to believe that businesses can bounce back if they have the correct support from Westminster and devolved governments.”

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