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 Government is being urged to provide the hospitality sector with a definite date on when restaurants, pubs and hotels can reopen​. Trade bodies UKHospitality and The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have both demanded that a clear, definitive date for when businesses can reopen is confirmed as soon as possible. The lack of clarity from the Government over when businesses in the hospitality can reopen has led to significant uncertainty among operators over whether they should be planning to reopen on 4 July; the date currently being mooted by Government as the day that hospitality businesses can reopen.

- A 'comprehensive' review of the two-metre social distancing rule has been ordered​ by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as pressure continues to grow for the Government to relax the guidance. Cutting the contact gap to one metre is seen as being integral to helping many hospitality businesses reopen sustainably, with chef restaurateur Tommy Banks telling BBC Radio 5​ last week that it would be 'impossible' to run a restaurant with two metre social distancing in place. According to the BBPA, failure to reduce it will mean 25,000 English pubs, or two thirds of the overall total, will be forced to stay closed post lockdown with no hope of reopening. NB: ​There have subsequently been suggestions​ that the Government's plan to announce that pubs and restaurants in England could reopen on 4 July have been delayed by the Government's review of the two-metre rule.

- The Coronavirus has continued to have a devastating impact on the future of the sector. On Tuesday (16 June), it was reported that multi-award-winning gastropub group The Seafood Pub Company had entered administration​ after failing to secure funding to help support it through the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown. Meanwhile, the iconic Le Caprice​ in London's Piccadilly, Mayfair's Indian Accent​, and chef Alex Jackson's Sardine​ in Hoxton, all announced this week that they would be closing permanently as a result of the impact caused by the pandemic. 

- Westminster Council has set out plans to temporarily close roads and create al fresco dining spaces​ across the borough once hospitality businesses are given the green light to reopen. The measures, which form the crux of the council's hospitality business recovery proposal, will cover high-density hospitality areas across the City of Westminster such as Soho, Fitzrovia, Covent Garden and Marylebone. They include introducing timed street closures and widening pavements, in order to create the space needed for restaurants and cafés to put tables and chairs outside. Operators wishing to have table and chairs outside will still require a license, with the council saying it will introduce a fast-track pavement dining application process.

- The Treasury Select Committee says the Government 'must amend' the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) to allow tronc payments to be included​. In a report​ detailing the gaps found in the Government's various Coronavirus support schemes, the committee highlights the exclusion of tronc as a notable omission, and recommends its inclusion as a way to provide additional support to households. Under the JRS, employers are meant to be able to claim 80% of an employee’s monthly wages up to £2,500. The subject of whether tronc payments could be included in an employer’s calculations was a notable grey area in the build-up to the JRS portal going live back in April. However, updated Government guidance did eventually confirm that it could not be claimed; a move that was described at the time as “disastrous” for furloughed hospitality employees.

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

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